CHICAGO -- With Tesla ramping up initial deliveries of its new, more reasonably priced ($35,000) Model 3 electric vehicle (EV), the automaker is adding to its Supercharger network of charging stations to pave the way for its mass-market debut. And convenience-store retailers are a big part of the plan.
This year, Tesla plans to double the number of North American Supercharger sites, which string together several charging stations for the ability to charge multiple EVs at once. They are currently more than 3,600 stations at nearly 400 sites in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Most recently, Tesla began the rollout of smaller Supercharger sites at urban locations, including a 10-stall Supercharger in Chicago and an eight-stall site in Boston, targeted at city dwellers, according to Bloomberg.
In the c-store industry, several retailers have opened their lots to Tesla’s Superchargers, many in the eastern portion of the United States. Here are six chains that have signed on with Tesla ...
1. Royal Farms
With 24 EV charging locations in Maryland and Delaware, Royal Farms has arguably the largest EV charging network in the c-store industry. The Baltimore, Md.-based chain of 170 stores opened its first charging station in 2015, adding many more as part of a partnership with EV charging-station provider Chargepoint. Most recently, a Tesla Supercharger station opened in the lot of a Royal Farms’ store in Grasonville, Md.
Thomas Ruszin, fuel and environmental leader for Royal Farms, Baltimore, told CSP Fuels that Tesla originally approached the chain with two specific sites in mind. “It seems like they were trying to tie the Eastern Shore beaches into some of the more major corridors,” said Ruszin. One store already had Chargepoint chargers planned, so Tesla picked the location in Grasonville, which sits on Route 50 connecting the beaches to the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area.
The Supercharger, which has 12 charging stations, takes up nearly 14 “nonprime” parking spots behind the c-store, said Ruszin. Tesla installed it in about two weeks, and owns, operates and maintains the unit.
To keep EV drivers busy during charging, the store offers a full foodservice program, including fried chicken, a deli, coffee bar and plenty of seating. While Tesla does not share usage data with Royal Farms, it did offer the retailer projections of how many EV drivers it expects would use the site. Ruszin declined to share the figure, but said the number was surprisingly high. Royal Farms has already seen usage of its other EV charging sites nearly quadruple in the past year to 1,900 customers in the latest quarter.
While Royal Farms does not plan to add any additional charging stations for now, “If we keep seeing this kind of growth that we’ve had over the last year, I think in next couple of years we will be re-examining this program and possibly adding to it,” said Ruszin.
Sheetz Inc. began working with Tesla in 2016 on opening several Supercharger sites, according to a Washington Post report. At the time, Mike Lorenz, executive vice president of petroleum supply, said the Altoona, Pa.-based chain had been in discussions, but would not comment on how many of Sheetz’s more than 500 sites in six states would host the chargers.
Since then, the partnership has been formalized with several Tesla Supercharger sites installed or under construction at Sheetz locations in North Huntingdon, Breezewood, DuBois and Falls Creek, Pa., and Cambridge, Ohio, according to Trib Live.
And according to reports on Tesla owner site Tesla Motors Club, additional Supercharger sites have been spotted near Sheetz stores in La Vale, Md.; Morgantown, Weston, Beckley and Martinsburg, W.Va.; and Wexford, Pa.
Sheetz, which has not yet made a formal announcement regarding the Superchargers or responded to CSP Fuels to confirm the locations, is an industry veteran when it comes to EV charging. The retailer added DC Fast Chargers at five sites in Pennsylvania in 2014 as part of charging corridor between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, and ultimately expanded this network to eight sites in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
While the Wawa, Pa.-based chain of more than 700 stores in six states has been mum on plans to add EV charging stations, it has apparently been active. According to Tesla’s Supercharger locator at its website, Superchargers have opened at Wawa stores in Burlington, N.J., and Sarasota and Pinellas Park, Fla. And on the Tesla Motors Club chat room, users reported a Supercharger site under construction at a Wawa location in Chester, Va.
CSP Fuels reached out to Wawa for comment on its plans for additional Supercharger locations and did not hear back.
4. Bosselman Enterprises
In January, a Tesla Supercharger station opened at the Bosselman Travel Center in Grand Island, Neb., joining other Supercharger sites in Lincoln, Gothenburg, Omaha and Ogallala, Neb.
The Tesla Supercharger site includes eight charging stations, located south of the Bosselman Travel Center’s gas island. A full charge takes about 30 to 45 minutes and provides about 170 miles of range. While Tesla is installing the Superchargers for owners of its Model S sedan and Model X SUV, other EV owners can use them as well.
Charlie Bosselman, CEO of Bosselman Enterprises, told The Grand Island Independent at the time that the Supercharger is part of Bosselman Enterprises’ mission to add clean fueling options and meet customer demand.
“I believe that if we can offer that to certain customers out there, I think it’s a good option,” Bosselman said. “Who knows if electric cars are the things that are going to go into the future or if there will be a combination [of fuel-based and electric vehicles]?”
In addition to the travel center, Bosselman Enterprises, Grand Island, Neb., owns and operates more than 40 Pump & Pantry convenience stores, as well as hotels and quick-service restaurants.
In October 2016, QuickChek Corp. announced the opening of a Supercharger at its Ulster, N.Y., store, off the New York Thruway. The site has eight charging stations. At the time, Tesla indicated it could partner with QuickChek, which has nearly 150 c-stores in New Jersey and New York, on more Supercharger sites.
John Schaninger, then the vice president of sales and marketing for Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based QuickChek, said at the time that the Supercharger was a complement to the location’s 6,584-square-foot c-store.
“The nice part is, if it does draw traffic, it’s a 20-minute stop,” said Schaninger, speaking at Winsight's 2016 Outlook Conference. “And so for 20 minutes, most people aren’t going to sit in their Tesla. They’re going to come in and hopefully buy a great cup of coffee or sandwich or something.”
The store is the first QuickChek in the state of New York to have the Q Cafe concept, which features 60 varieties of hot and cold beverages, made by baristas, as well as made-to-order sandwiches.
6. Love's Travel Stops
In 2016, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores added its first EV charging station with a Supercharger at its Three Rivers, Texas, travel center, according to the San Antonio Business Journal. The Supercharger provides a needed charging station in the 110-mile distance between San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas, the company said.
Superchargers have since been added to Love’s travel centers in Midland and Italy, Texas, and Steele, Ala., according to Love's spokesperson Kealey Dorian. The Oklahoma City-based chain has more than 410 travel centers in 40 states.