SHARE:    

Places to plug in

1204
 2018


Tesla will soon have 12 electric car charging stations in a parking lot at the San Marcos Premium Outlets. A full charge takes 30-45 minutes.

STORY BY ED CROWELL
PHOTOS BY ZACH RYALL


In a parking lot at the San Marcos Premium Outlets shopping center, behind the North Face store and across from the pet exercise area, six electric car charging stations stand ready. They are Supercharger stations for Tesla owners needing a fill up of electricity.

With the assistance of Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative engineers, the number of stations at the outlet mall along Interstate 35 will double to 12 soon. Sometimes waiting lines of drivers have formed, so Tesla decided to add more charging stations.
 
Giddings also will soon have Tesla charging stations at the CEFCO convenience store on U.S. 290. The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa on Texas 71 between Bastrop and Austin has four chargers in the ChargePoint network that Bluebonnet helped install. The resort charges electric cars about 400 times a year, with each charge taking 3 to 4 hours. A Tesla can use these chargers, but they aren’t as fast as its own Supercharger.
 
Dr. Jose R. Maldonado is happy to have a plug-in stop at the San Marcos outlet mall. The family-practice physician lives in Lakeway, 16 miles west of Austin, but regularly drives his Tesla to his hometown of Laredo to care for patients there. He depends on the charging station in San Marcos that is about 200 miles from Laredo.  
 
“I travel 246 miles door to door,” he said. “With the 250-mile range of my batteries, I can’t take a chance on not having a recharge.”
 
Maldonado appreciates the break from interstate driving during his 15-minute plug-in stops. If his car’s charge was nearly depleted and he wanted a full charge, he would have to spend 30-45 minutes at the mall. But eight Tesla Superchargers are available in Laredo, so he keeps charged there.
 
Maldonado drives a 2017 Tesla P90 SUV. With four sons, he needs the roominess of the large vehicle. “I had a big Audi Q7, but it was diesel and it was polluting the air. I like being green with the Tesla,” he said, noting that he also has solar panels on the roof of his house.
 
Five EVgo chargers for other electric cars are available several yards north of the Tesla chargers in the same San Marcos mall parking lot. Tesla owners can juice up there if they have a plug adapter, but only one of the five EVgo chargers is a fast charger. Tesla Supercharger stations are proprietary and not adaptable for other cars.
 
EVgo calls itself the largest public, fast-charging network for electric cars in the country, with more than 1,000 fast chargers and 350 lower-speed chargers in 34 states. The company says it provides 100,000 charges a month to electric vehicles.
 
Pricing at public stations varies from free (site owners or local governments provide the service) to a fee per minute, per kilowatt hour or via a monthly membership. One major station operator in Texas charges 4 to 6 cents per minute.
 
There are several ways to find charging stations. Chargehub.com offers an interactive map of public charging stations across the country. Click on “pump” icons to see what level of charging is available where, with addresses, type of chargers, pricing and contact information. Plugshare.com has another map site, as does the U.S. Department of Energy through its Alternative Fuels Data Center.


Three types of electric car chargers

LEVEL 1. Any electric car can be charged at home on a standard 120-volt wall outlet for a three-pronged plug that comes with the vehicle. This generally charges a car at a range rate of only 2 to 5 miles per hour of charging, so drivers need to plug in at least overnight for average in-town trips.  

LEVEL 2. The most common level of chargers found at public stations and in homes uses a 240-volt outlet (the same as required for electric ovens and dryers) and special equipment. An electrician can install the outlets in a garage.  The chargers that plug into the outlets are called EVSEs (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) and cost $400 to $800. They offer 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging. Some workplaces provide this type of charger for commuting employees.

LEVEL 3. These chargers are called DC-fast or superchargers and use 480-volt specialized equipment. They generally are found at public stations along interstate and other high-traffic highways and can deliver 60 to 80 miles of range in 20 minutes. Most drivers do not charge their batteries to 100 percent at these stations. The time it takes for a full charge increases considerably once an 80 percent level is reached.

« Return to News