How QuickChek Met Tesla

Why the c-store chain may have an appetite for EV charging

ULSTER, N.Y. -- It’s nice to be wanted, especially by one of the most fascinating tech companies in the United States, electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla. Just ask QuickChek, which became the first convenience-store chain in the country to host one of Tesla’s Supercharger charging stations.

“My understanding is Tesla plotted where they feel they need stations, so that their car owners can refuel,” said John Schaninger, vice president of sales and marketing, at the recent CSP 2016 Outlook Leadership Conference. Tesla approached the New Jersey-based chain about installing one of its high-speed charging stations at a newer QuickChek store in Ulster, N.Y., right off the New York Thruway.

Tesla has been building out a network of high-speed Supercharger charging stations for owners of its luxury Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The chargers can provide up to 120 kilowatts of power to a Tesla battery, supplying it with enough electricity during a 30-minute charging session to power the EV about 170 miles.

Schaninger confirmed that there was a financial commitment from QuickChek for the charging site, although he did not specify the amount. Regardless, the retailer is focused on the longer-term potential of having the Supercharger on its lot.

“The nice part is, if it does draw traffic, it’s a 20-minute stop,” said Schaninger. “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 6,584-square-foot store has plenty to offer here, with made-to-order subs, wraps, sandwiches and salads, as well as hot and cold beverages, and grocery items. This happened to be the first QuickChek in the state of New York to have the Q Café concept, which features 60 varieties of hot and cold beverages, made by baristas.

While it is still early in the installation, Schaninger said the next steps for QuickChek are assessing the results. “How does this first one look, how does it work, and where else can we install it if it financially makes sense?” he said.

While Tesla did not respond to an interview request as of press time, it did confirm to the EV news site Electrek that it may add Superchargers to more of QuickChek’s more than 140 c-stores in New York and New Jersey.

The EV manufacturer has been placing Supercharger stations along highways, near restaurants, shopping centers and similar areas. Last June, The Washington Post reported that Sheetz Inc. was in talks to host Supercharger stations at some of its more than 500 sites in six states.

There are more than 4,400 Tesla Superchargers at more than 700 locations worldwide. About 97% of the population in the continental U.S. lives within 150 miles of one.

Privately held QuickChek is based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., and has 145 convenience stores throughout the Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Long Island.

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