EV Charging from San Francisco to San Diego. Why so few commercial EV charging stations along Highway 101?

In September 2017 I made the trip from San Diego to San Francisco.  See my previous blog post for that adventure.  Now it was time to come home.

This time my return trip would be down the 101 freeway so I could visit my daughter who is a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  This trip would still be an adventure because the availability of high speed commercial EV charging stations between the Bay Area and Los Angeles was spotty.

I left San Francisco with my batteries at about 50% and headed to Redwood City where there was a number of EVgo high speed commercial EV chargers.  When I got there, they were all in use!  So I parked my car, got something to eat and then returned.  Fortunately a few spots opened up, I charged my car and then headed southbound on the 101.

It was 82 miles to Salinas and I made it after draining the batteries and using some of the gas in my REX (BMW i3 Range Extender).  Charging went smoothly and then I continued south.  Between Salinas and Paso Robles (near San Luis Obispo) there is only 1 high speed commercial EV charging station.  It’s a privately owned, independent station at Keefer’s Inn in King City that is not part of the typical EV networks like EVgo or ChargePoint.  It was 127 miles from Salinas to SLO and I was driving efficiently, so I buy passed the King City charging station and drove electric+REX and made it all the way to San Luis Obispo.

I spent a nice evening with my daughter.  Had a nice meal and conversation.  Visited the grocery store to stock up her cabinets and fridge.  I was just passing through, so I was only there for a few hours.  Had to get back on the road to San Diego!

I filled up my little 1.7 gallon REX gas tank in SLO and drove to the Kon Tiki Inn in Pismo Beach where they had a high speed commercial EV charging station.  This was an independent one like the EV charger in King City.  Entrepreneurs are recognizing the severe shortage of high speed commercial EV charging stations and installing them at their business.  I spent 30 minutes in Pismo Beach and then continued southbound on the 101.

The date was October 1, 2017 and at this point the stories about the Las Vegas shooter started trickling out in the news.  The story evolved from “only” a few people dead, to 10-12 dead, to the full extend of the tragedy (58 dead and 851 injured).  It certainly made the evening drive compelling.  Not only was I on an electric vehicle adventure, but there was a tragic news story unfolding as I drove.

It was 100 miles from Pismo to Santa Barbara.  I found an EVgo high speed charging station in Santa Barbara and then continued southbound.  43 miles to Ventura and another stop at EVgo.

At this point it was well into the wee hours of the morning and I wanted to stop the least amount of times possible.  So I drove straight from Ventura to Corona (112 miles) using my electric batteries and REX.  Stopped to charge in Corona, then the trusty chargers at the Lake Elsinore Outlet Mall then I made it home.

I was a long drive.  I got a late start out of San Francisco.  I spent quality time with my daughter in SLO.  Plus I had some of the normal stops necessary for charging.

Like my trip northbound there is a severe lack of EV charging infrastructure.  There are large caps of geography with no high speed commercial EV charging stations at all.

This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs.  EV drivers are always on the hunt for charging stations.  Long distance EV drivers specifically need the high speed charging stations that allow charging in 30 minutes or less.  Entrepreneurs will attract more customers to their restaurants or shopping centers if more EV charging infrastructure is installed.  Innovative property owners and property managers that install high speed EV charging stations can provide a valuable upgrade to their property, work to minimize vacancy rates and justify rent increases with value added services.