Electric vehicle charging an important amenity

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 9:00am

As electric vehicles move from hot commodity to practical, with more Teslas, Chevrolet Bolts, Nissan Leafs and others on the road, the Boothbay region now has a number of places to charge them. 

Boothbay Craft Brewery and Topside Inn are among businesses with free electric vehicle charging. Topside’s Buzz Makarewicz said use of its Tesla charging station has increased to about one vehicle per week this season. “We get a fair number of people who come. I don't know if they choose us because we have it or if they were going to stay here anyway, but we have had a few who didn't know we had it, so it was a bonus.”

He said the installation came from the idea that an extra amenity for an underserved demographic would be good for Topside, and for businesses all through town; because more car companies are making electric vehicles, chargers will become important in the next several years. “Anything we can do to bring folks to the area is a good thing,” said Makarewicz. “And people do like it. They like the fact they can just do whatever they want during the day and come back here, plug it in.”

While there are adapters for vehicles that cannot accept Tesla charging connectors, Makarewicz is looking forward to installing a Porsche-based station which serves vehicles with universal ports and Porsche electric vehicles. The installation was set for last April, but Makarewicz went with Porsche’s suggestion he wait until June for a faster charging model. When June came, Porsche was forced to put the installation off due to COVID-19.

Said Makarewicz, “Last year we had a guy staying with us who worked for Porsche … and he said 'You guys fit the profile of a place that Porsche would give one to’ … The cool thing is that we'll be included in their navigation system as a destination for accommodations and having a charger. We'll also be in their magazines. I said, 'Hey, if I could get any of the universal ones, I may as well get a Porsche one!'”

Boothbay Craft Brewery has three of the Tesla stations and one universal station. BCB’s Win and Cody Mitchell said the stations were an easy sell: They offer a new amenity in the region and put them on the literal Tesla map. “We're a good spot because we're kind of in the middle between Bar Harbor and the southern points,” said Cody. “It's not so far down that they won't come in, charge up for the rest of the trip and have something to eat and drink. It's a good time.”

Win said while the vehicle charging is free, he has been pleasantly surprised that most travelers opt to spend time at the brewery and their adjacent restaurant, Watershed Tavern. Most people do not know charging stations tack onto the host’s electric bill and are not covered by any of the car companies. “Every once in a while we get people who anonymously show up and leave with another car … It's rare, but it's happened a couple times. It's also good to get the word out on any car charging station.”

Most of the electric vehicles that use the charging stations are Teslas and just about everyone comes in and asks if they can use them, said Cody.

“Yeah, sure. So long as you buy a beer and stay a while. They'll spend a couple hours eating and drinking and charging their car,” said Win. “We love it.”

“That's right,” said Cody. “Beer-powered cars.”

Along with the societal shift electric vehicles are creating as they slowly replace fuel-powered vehicles is a learning curve on charging etiquette, said Win. “The only pet peeve I have about the whole thing is just because the car's smart doesn't mean the owner is. We always ask you leave (the hookup) where you find it. Some people would drive away with it plugged in if the car would let them!”

Cody said the charging stations are considered “level two,” which gets a vehicle about 30 miles in an hour of charging. Despite “supercharging” stations giving a full charge in about two hours, he said it is unfortunate people still believe the battery cells last only as long as a mobile phone or laptop and consider the range of electric vehicles to be inferior.

“People still think it's not enough range for anything or the batteries go bad like your phone. Not at all. The whole chasse is filled with batteries and they say in 10 years or within like 100,000 miles … the battery has only lost about 3% of its life. But the technology – 300 miles is a long ways.”

Also locally, Tugboat Inn carries a universal charging station and Ocean Point Inn Spa and Resort carries Tesla charging stations. If your business has a station, email josephcharpentier@boothbayregister.com