GM Dealership Charging Network - Chevy Bolt EV Forum
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post #1 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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GM Dealership Charging Network

Out of curiosity, I've been using Plugshare.com to plan some hypothetical summer trips driving my Bolt EV. A few of my planned charging stops are at GM dealerships, which got me thinking. GM has thousands of dealerships across the United States, why have they not setup their own charging network?

I understand that the dealership network isn't a GM owned conglomerate of centralized management. I understand that GM is in the business of selling trucks, not electricity. However, GM has a lot of leverage over dealerships, and many dealerships already have CCS chargers for their service departments. Dealership participation could be voluntary if the desire to offer incentives just isn't there at the corporate level, but I feel like a GM sponsored network would florish.

I'm just going to word vomit for a minute with ideas:
  • GM Charge Network (GMCN) could create their own Visa card with rewards, or perhaps just a rewards program much like gasoline providers today.
  • Many dealerships already have waiting rooms with TV, snacks, and water.
  • This would exponentially increase sales leads and customer contact for the dealership.
  • Putting chargers out front and painting the spaces green would do wonders for GM's brand image. The Bolt EV isn't a flambouyant looking car, make up for it here.
  • It would legitimately help your customers. (I know GM has no interest here, I just felt like saying it)
  • Charging for GM vehicles is free or reduced, market rates for other makes would lead to possible customer acquisition.
  • When I see "Nissian No Charge to Charge" on EVgo stations, I second guess my brand choice.
  • Sell GMCN branded level 2 chargers to corner that market.
  • With enough dealership participation, it would **** all over Tesla's supercharger network.

I'm sure someone with a business or marketing degree/background could do better than I'm able. Then again, maybe not because I'm an EV owner and customer. This probably will not happen, or it'll happen too late and it'll be too little, but I'd like for you more intelligent people to tell me why.
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post #2 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 04:55 AM
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I'll chime in as a Leaf driver since end of July 2013 and having had a '13 Leaf w/CHAdeMO (their DC FC standard) from that point until July 2015. I leased that one but bought a used '13 Leaf WITHOUT CHAdeMO to replace it before I returned my 1st Leaf.

First off, Nissan NCTC didn't exist until after I leased my first Leaf, so I was never eligible. And, it's only free for the first 2 years. At the time, some Nissan dealers offered free L2 and DC FCing but it was very YMMV. Some dealers only welcomed those who bought/leased from them, which usually was a dealer near you --> nearly useless.

I have L2 charged my Leaf a few times at a few Nissan dealers (including last year) w/o issue but sometimes had failed attempts (e.g. 1 car blocked by an EV hole (completed but blocking the spot) + other in use), as well.

For most Nissan dealers, the DC FC tended to be behind gates/areas that inaccessible when the dealer's closed. So, when the dealer's closed, you're SOL. I leased my Leaf from Boardwalk Nissan in Redwood City but never once personally used their DC FC as I don't live near there nor would I travel that way much in my Leaf. When it was free, I knew someone who posted on Facebook that she was DC FCing in line and there 5 Leafs behind her! It was a popular travel corridor since they're off of 101.

The Nissan dealer I tended to DC FC at was kinda near home but there was only 1 unit, was free at the time and because it was free, somewhat often had a line.

As for "this would exponentially increase sales leads and customer contact for the dealership." Not really. I never observed this happening when I saw lines.

The closest Chevy dealer to me (not where I bought my Bolt from) has a very low Plugshare score of 2.1. Looks like their DC FC has been broken since September 2018. Keep in mind I'm in Silicon Valley, in the middle of a very strong EV market. (At my work, in our EV + PHEV registry, there are over 500 such vehicles in our registry and over 200 of them are Teslas.)

The dealer I bought my Bolt from has at least 2 or more 24 or 25 kW DC chargers. IIRC, there were signs saying not for public use. They have to use them to charge customer cars. They charged mine on one of them (I sat in my car while it was charging) to get it ready for me. The dealer's nowhere near home, so it's not that likely I'd charge there anyway (if they were open to the public/Chevy/their customers).

As for free or reduced rates, the problem with that is the demand charges could kill the dealer. There was a report at http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=23794 which is unfortunately very long and complicated. The RMI links are 404 but there's a copy of the report at https://web.archive.org/web/20170412...lysis_2017.pdf.

I posted at http://www.mychevysparkev.com/forum/...php?f=7&t=3753 this figure:
http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopi...332063#p332063
Quote:
Information provided by Nissan at Plugin 2013 indicates average cost for hardware and installation at dealers for the DC FC is $49K.
At the time, they were installing these units: https://web.archive.org/web/20130112....nissanqc.com/ that are very heavy and not very reliable.

The wall mounted 24 kW units (e.g. https://www.chargepoint.com/products/commercial/cpe100/) I believe are somewhere past $10K for the unit only and should have lower installation costs due to their lighter weight.

As for "I understand that GM is in the business of selling trucks, not electricity", yes. Unfortunately, GM at the moment doesn't seem to really care about selling much in the way of EVs. Bolt is barely marketed. If you d/l the deliveries PDF file from the left side of https://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/...2-gmsales.html, you'll see that in the US for 1Q 2019, GM sold/leased 665.8K vehicles. Only 4.3K of those were Bolts and the only vehicle that GM current sells/leases in the US that can even be charged via SAE Combo.

Volt (production ended) can't be DC charged. I'm almost positive this was also the case for the ELR (dead) and CT6 PHEV (now also dead). Spark EV could but that DC FC inlet was also optional and Spark EV has been discontinued for awhile, besides being sold in CA and barely anywhere else (Oregon, I think, eventually).

In summary, at least in the US w/the lessons learned from Nissan, it seems like dealers are not really optimal places for DC chargers. And, many of the deployments of CHAdeMO back then were a joke: only 1 DC FC per site. What if there's a line? What if it's down?

At least Tesla did it right w/many charging stalls per location and implemented stuff like idle fees to keep people from blocking spots after they're done.
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Last edited by cwerdna; 04-16-2019 at 05:14 AM.
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post #3 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 06:24 AM
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post #4 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 08:17 AM
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I'm not really a fan of the dealership charging model either. It's a nice service for them to have if they sell and support EVs, but whether they are available to customers/non-customers is a completely different issue. Many dealerships are very welcoming. Others are not. And most of the dealership chargers I've seen are actually actively in use most of the time (by the dealership's own vehicles or vehicles that are being serviced). When you add on to that the fact that many dealerships are not ideally located and lack 24/7 services that are appropriate for refueling, I just don't see the value.

I would much rather see GM as a company partner with public charging providers to build out dedicated charging sites that their customers can use. That could be full backing, or it could simply be support through buying advertising spots at the charging locations. That's something that the local dealerships could get in on as well.
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post #5 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 10:55 AM
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It could be a great idea if implemented correctly but the charge station would have to be a dedicated island away from the building so you are talking major dollars. I DC fast charge at the Chevy dealer in Olympia, WA. on my way down south a lot. Often there are dealers or service customer cars in the way plus they dedicated TWO spots for the parts running express van right in front of the charger with a big sign. LOL the guys parks right down the middle of white line. Every time I pull up I cringe at what I find but it is for free so I shut up.
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post #6 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 11:37 AM
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It could be a great idea if implemented correctly but the charge station would have to be a dedicated island away from the building so you are talking major dollars.
I tried to charge at my nearby Chevy dealer during a lunch break just to get some buffer range, since my driveway was going to be inaccessible that weekend. Pulled up, and they've got a new car parked in the space, hemmed in by another new car. Sadly, any charger needs to be far away from the most convenient parking spaces because otherwise, they'll be full every time. (Have the same issue with my local Kroger, the two charging spaces are the closest to the store ... never empty, never used by electric cars from what I've seen).
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post #7 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 01:52 PM
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I always call the Chevy Dealer before I go on a trip just to see if they are going to allow me to charge and if it is working properly. Only had one dealer the was not EV friendly and would allow only their customer to charge. They said they have had some "issues" with allowing the general public to use their charger. I tried in vain to sell him the "we are all in this together" philosophy.
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post #8 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 05:25 PM
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It's even worse when you think about how (supposedly) every GM Dealer that's certified to sell the Bolt has at least a ~25kW DCFC but GM does not require the dealers to make those chargers available to anyone not even their own customers.

I've been saying for a while now that GM Requiring their dealers to make the DCFCs they already have available to GM EV owners for a reasonable fee is pretty much the least that GM could do to support EV charging.

Seemingly they are taking the approach that since they can't afford to build out a comprehensive charging network like the Tesla SuperCharger network they shouldn't bother to do (basically) anything to support GM EV owners charging requirements.


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post #9 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by NewsCoulomb View Post
I would much rather see GM as a company partner with public charging providers to build out dedicated charging sites that their customers can use. That could be full backing, or it could simply be support through buying advertising spots at the charging locations. That's something that the local dealerships could get in on as well.
I don't agree with the idea of dedicated charging sites, I think that's likely to piss off potential GM EV owners .

I think "sponsored" charging sites that have GM branding or marketing messages/signage and maybe offers discounted charging to GM EV owners but are available for use by any compatible EV is a better choice.


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post #10 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 06:40 PM
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It's even worse when you think about how (supposedly) every GM Dealer that's certified to sell the Bolt has at least a ~25kW DCFC but GM does not require the dealers to make those chargers available to anyone not even their own customers.
The "required to have DCFC" was a false rumor. They are not even required to have ANY charging ability, the dealership I purchased from did not have a functional L2 station let alone a DCFC station. They had to deliver my Bolt EV when I purchased it last year because it would have taken DAYS to charge it on the stock EVSE.

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