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Mon Nov 11, 2019, 07:36 AM

Whole Foods - A Seething Nexus Of Human Conflict!! The Driving Drama Of . . . .EV Charging!!

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Over a decade, Whole Foods has been a leader among U.S. retailers in offering more and better EV charging stations in its parking lots. It is a “symbiotic relationship,” said Jonathan Levy, a vice president of EVgo, one of the chain’s charging providers. People who buy organic arugula are also the kind of people who are first to adopt electric cars. Come for the electrons, the thinking goes, and spend more time and money at the salad bar. Unless — like at the store's outlets in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, and in other cities like Boston and Chicago — there's not enough charging stations to go around.

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A few hours' observation at a Berkeley Whole Foods on a Monday evening in late October yielded a wide catalog of conflict. The charging zone is four chargers and five spaces by the front entrance in a busy parking lot. About half the sessions are just as Whole Foods intended — a short charging session, in and out, no problems. Other drivers seem destined to annoy the others.

A sloppily parked Ford blocked part of an EV-only space so no one could use it. The drivers of two Toyota hybrids built without plugs — a Highlander and Prius — commandeered parking spaces for a time, perhaps hoping their hybrid cred would deflect criticism. A woman distracted by a phone call left the charging hose for her black BMW i3 splayed over the next EV-charging space. A man then parked in that space. He wanted to charge but couldn't; the station was in use by the woman on the phone. He saw her hose was wedged under his tire. He grabbed the cable — a hot wire running high voltage — and yanked hard to dislodge it. All the while, no staff from Whole Foods appeared to pay attention. The only thing monitoring was a sign on each charger that said, "Parking Permitted 30 Min Only" during vehicle charging.

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On PlugShare, particular ire is pointed toward Uber and Lyft drivers. For years, Whole Foods has been one of the only places in the center of a city for a driver to quickly fill a battery — a crucial need for ride-hail drivers. To accommodate such people, EVgo has started building dedicated charging stations for car-share drivers who use Maven, a car-share rental service operated by General Motors Co. (Electric Road Trip, Oct. 28).

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https://www.eenews.net/stories/1061491825

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