Thursday, October 21, 2021

MENU

RV park owner discusses experience with electric vehicles at his park

Two weeks ago, I wrote an essay regarding the growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) and discussed what the future might hold for campgrounds. RV parks, with a plethora of 50-amp pedestals, are often seen as last-ditch filling stations for the current EV crowd.

The topic certainly is a popular (or unpopular) one among RVers, judging from the number of comments the article received. We’ll continue to look at the future for electric vehicles and other “green” options in coming weeks, including reviews of new vehicles and other new energy-saving devices for the RVing lifestyle.

Today, I thought it would be informative to visit with a campground owner in California (always the epicenter of green technology) who happens to own a traditional Chevron fuel station that also offers EV charging stations for Tesla vehicles.

GENE ZANGER
(Photo by Jessica Caimi, BenitoLink.com)

Meet Gene Zanger, whose family has owned and operated the Casa de Fruta complex in Hollister, California, since the family planted its first fruit orchard there in 1908. The complex now includes not just a fruit stand, carousel, narrow-gauge railroad, mining sluice, wine store, and huge restaurant, but also a large Chevron station and the 250-site Casa de Fruta RV Park, which is affiliated with Good Sam.

It was Gene who last week provided me with the photo of the Tesla towing the Airstream Bambi. Here’s that shot again, along with another Gene took to prove that, yes, Tesla’s are indeed towing trailers.

Gene’s business is unique in that he has the RV park, the fruit stand/restaurant and the Chevron station that also has 20 charging stations for Tesla EVs.

Here are a few questions I posed to Gene about EVs, along with his responses:

When did you begin offering charging stations for electric vehicles?

Zanger: Tesla came to us two years ago and put in 20 charges at our Chevron station location. They don’t charge the Tesla owner a fee at the location for using the stations. There is a system that identifies the car so they don’t have to pay on the spot. These chargers can take a Tesla from dead to full in about a half-hour to 45 minutes.

How do Tesla owners find you?

Zanger: The cars all have screens that tell them where Tesla charging stations are located. They are even sophisticated enough to know which ones are in use and direct the driver to the nearest open station. It’s pretty slick.

Have you seen electric vehicles in your RV park?

Zanger: We have seen a few. But we don’t have designated charging stations in the park for Teslas or any other non-Tesla cars.

Do you allow EVs to charge in your campground?

Zanger: We have allowed some to come into the RV park and use our 50-amp service to give them enough power to get to their next stop. We are listed on some websites such as plugshare.com, where we are just one of the dots on their map. We are listed as someplace to charge “in a pinch.”

What are your plans for the future, as EVs become more popular?

Zanger: We’ve talked about adding more charging stations for a number of years, but it’s starting to make a lot more sense since we’ve put in a four-acre solar field. In California, you can get rebates for renewable energy credits. Those credits can be put into auctions and sold.

Have you considered working with the other existing EV charging companies?

Zanger: Most people would likely just work with the existing charging companies such as EVgo®, ChargePoint® or Electrify America®. They all have different programs. We do get a minimal rent payment from Tesla for the stations we have. The other guys seem loath to pay us any rent for space. They just want to set up their systems here. They don’t say much about how they make their money, but I suspect it involves the low carbon fuel credits.

Do you have to work with these companies?

Zanger: No. We may end up taking the path to do it ourselves. The existing companies won’t share their revenue. They think the ancillary income they bring to a business should be enough.

What would EV charging look like at the Casa de Fruta RV Park?

Zanger: I don’t think we’d put charging stations at the RV sites. We’d likely put them in a different location of the park.

What sort of options are out there right now for campground owners who may want to offer charging stations on their own?

Zanger: We’ve looked at a company called FreeWire Technologies. Their system involves a battery that plugs into your regular system to stay charged, and then discharges from the battery into the car. That way, you don’t have to have a transformer, a new power station, or a permit from PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric Company). But the cost right now is $162,000 for the setup.

Where do you ultimately see EV charging heading?

Zanger: I see a day when a significant portion of the regular car parking stalls at a business will have a charger of some sort.

##RVT1003

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

35 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John T
4 months ago

In 4 years of full-time RVing, I’ve seen hundreds of EV charging stations in parking lots ranging from visitor centers to big box stores, and I have never, ever, seen an EV using one of them.

Nick
4 months ago

Holy cow. With a Tesla towing package, that car can tow 4960lbs with a 500lb tongue weight. Who woulda thought?

Jim Harvey
4 months ago

Any business installing a charging station – even a free one – should make sure they have business personal injury liability insurance, probably 1mil/5mil, to cover anyone who gets hurt or killed using it. The policy or rider language explicitly must cover the charging station and all related activities.

Somone trips over the cord, gets hit by another vehicle, whatever, and it’s lawsuit city. Your insurance company may say “that risk is not specifically covered so it’s excluded”. Then you personally get to pay your attorneys AND fund the settlement or judgment. Got an extra couple hundred thousand dollars just lying around?

Sad way to lose your RV park.

Odd that the “install us for free” scam artists never mentioned this huge potential downside. 🤣

chris
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Harvey

Jees.. gloom and doom.

Brian Anderson
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Harvey

EV charging uses an intelligent connection that will not apply power until there is a secure, locked connection between vehicle and charger. This applies to both L1-L2 (120v-240v AC) and L3 (High-power DC) connections. EV charging is orders of magnitude safer than thousands of RVers plugging in to 120/240 V, unmanaged power sockets every day that has been going on for 50 years.

rvgrandma
4 months ago

Guess I am confused – who pays for the charging stations electricity? Is it Tesla, the gas station owner or the car owner?

Jim A
4 months ago
Reply to  rvgrandma

Tesla pays the electric company and then charges the car owner for the specific amount they consumed.

Richard Carlson
4 months ago

I’m really loving your take on the “front page” article. Keep them coming!

marco922
4 months ago

While I support electric vehicles I think they need to start paying their fare share of highway taxes and costs associated with charging stations. This includes RV parks. It’s not fair to raise RV park rates just to cope with electric vehicles being charged for free at campsites.

chris
4 months ago
Reply to  marco922

I’m beginning to wonder where these highway taxes are going. The roads in so many places are just terrible.

Retired Firefighter Tom
4 months ago
Reply to  marco922

In Wisconsin owners of Hybrid vehicles [such as a Toyota Prius] have an added fee when they renew their vehicle license every year to make up for the lost gas tax revenue. I assume full EV cars also do the same.

Steve
4 months ago

Yup, Illinois too.

SusanW.
4 months ago
Reply to  marco922

I have an EV, I just paid 300 to register my vehicle. So I’ve paid my fair share and then some. Also, there is nothing in this article, and I haven’t heard of any RV Park raising their rates to “cope” with EV charging.

Brian Anderson
4 months ago
Reply to  marco922

Agreed, although it has been decades since gas taxes have paid their fair share of road costs. EV etiquette requires that the driver request access to a socket and offer to pay at least the cost of electricity.

Tommy Molnar
4 months ago

The first picture of the Tesla towing a “Bambi” looks like it may work, but the second one looks to me like too much trailer for an automobile (of any kind) to be towing. Just my opinion, of course.

Colin
4 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

The tow vehicles are the same. Tesla Model X crossovers. The second trailer is a Minnie Drop, which is within a hundred pounds or so of the Bambi.

So the setups are literally the same thing in terms of towability. Totally fine.

Jim Keltner
4 months ago

Interesting, we don’t have an EV but would love to. Any ideas of when/who will make EV’s that can be towed 4 down?

Jack morris
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Keltner

Look into a used Ford C-Max Energi.

Al K
4 months ago

There is no doubt electric vehicles will become main stream. I can see RV Park owners need to monitor electricity at every site but will they at an exorbitant cost? Some may or they will simply price sites so we all pay more to cover their biggest overhead cost.

Bob P
4 months ago
Reply to  Al K

It’ll probably be done like so many resort type parks do in FL and TX I know of, each sight has their own electric meter, if you’re there long term you pay the electric company or as we did in TX the park read the meter and we paid the park, we probably were charged a little extra by the park for their effort, in FL the meters were read by the electric company with their remote meter reader.

Tom
4 months ago

Very good information. For the 3 you listed who want you to provide “free” spots, show them the door. Free never works in the commercial world.

Eric Ramey
4 months ago

Interesting Perspective! Thanks for sharing!

Dennis Good
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Ramey

Somewhat off subject … what do you do in a 4 to 6 hour traffic jam with a bunch of EV vehicles with dead batteries because of running a heater in freezing weather. How do you unclog them and save peoples lives from freezing to death

Bill
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Good

Probably tow them when you can finally get to them through the even more numerous ‘dead’ gas/diesel vehicles that ran dry during the cataclysmic traffic jam envisioned.

Bob P
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Good

That’s the new population control by the current administration who want GREEN every thing.

chris
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

Yeah, that’s relevant.

chris
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Good

It’s much more pleasant to be sitting in this gargantuan traffic jam breathing exhaust fumes.

Bill
4 months ago
Reply to  chris

That’s the real population control..Less reservation angst for the remaining ‘greenies’ like me.

Dennis Good
4 months ago
Reply to  chris

Bet those EV passengers will be jamming themselves into those fossil burning vehicles to save their booty .
Can you imagine if all those were EV vehicles in traffic jams that occur regularly here in my state. ?
How do you tow away a jam 5 miles long with dead battery EV’s ? It does sound like population control !!!

Glen Anderson
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Good

Maybe read up on this topic or talk to anyone who owns an electric vehicle. The heat or AC does not use a lot of energy. In fact our EV has a Dog Mode where we leave the AC on with the dog inside while we shop or dine. It is all monitored and controlled on our phone. Typically, this uses very little energy from the battery. So, LA traffic is not a concern but as with gas vehicles, you don’t hit the road with an empty tank.

Dennis Good
4 months ago
Reply to  Glen Anderson

Snow, Traffic Jams, and Electric Cars.
Has anyone thought about it?
If all cars were electric … and were caught up in a three hour traffic jam… dead batteries! Then what?
Not to mention, that there is virtually no heating in an electric vehicle.
And if you get stuck on the road all night, no battery, no heating, no windshield wipers, no radio, no GPS (all these drain the batteries) !!!
You can try calling 911 to bring women and children to safety!
But they cannot come to help you since all roads are blocked and the xxxxxxxxxxxx will probably require all police cars to be electric also (if we still have police departments then) !!!
And when the roads become unblocked no one can move! Their batteries are dead.
How do you charge the thousands of cars in the traffic jam? (That is a business I think I’d like to look into. Drones to deliver heavy batteries and someone to remove and install.)
Same problem during summer vacation departures with miles of traffic jams.
There is virtually NO air conditioning in an electric vehicle. It would drain your batteries quickly.
No socialist bent reporter talks about this of course!
You can’t even call in horses to rescue you.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just get rid of the socialist politicians who are trying to help China’s economy?

Tom
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Good

You need to move if you’re in a 3 hour traffic jam.

www.livingboondockingmexico.blogspot.com
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Good

Why such a negative take on technology? If it works, we’ll get the bugs out, all things take time. Imagine a city where noise levels and stinky pollution from fossil fuel vehicles is reduced considerably and your grandkids can breathe better air. Is that socialism? Not at all, socialism, if you have read about it, exists or existed in countries such as Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina and now possibly Mexico. Those countries are very dependent on fossil fuels. Why? Lack of education and private investment. The world is changing and the Americas as a whole needs to get on the wagon. I constantly hear complaints about Asian countries taking over. Then we need to do what it takes to compete with them, and also make our environment healthy and take care of Mother Nature? Is that a bad thing? Imagine, with higher education and high tech jobs poverty would decrease. Isn’t that what we hear all the time about how low minimum wage is and how Americans are starving? Let’s not listen to the fake news and rumors, let’s get involved with science and head into the future. Then maybe our childhood dreams of flying cars and wifi electricity might just come true.

Dennis Good
4 months ago

Wow….have never heard such convoluted facts except on CNN.
Now is your chance to advance technology and go buy an EV and get on an Interstate highway.

Brian Anderson
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Good

EVs consume almost no power when stopped, unlike most ICE vehicles which continue to idle. The onboard energy monitoring provides detailed information and the HVAC can simply be turned off, reducing power consumption to essentially 0. In other words, the EV can sit indefinitely and still be able to move, unlike an ICE vehicle that would eventually run out of fuel.