New Charging Options Available for EV Drivers | WESTCHASE DISTRICT

According to Forbes, EV sales accounted for 5.6% of the total auto market in the second quarter of 2022 – up from 2.7% in the second quarter of 2021. As electric vehicles gain popularity and market share, retailers and employers alike are working to meet the demand for charging stations.

Two charging stations have operated at the Robinson-Westchase Library on Wilcrest for many years. And the multi-bay “superchargers” have served area Tesla drivers since the auto maker opened its showroom and service center at 9633 Westheimer Road.

Connect this: Only tenants have access to the SemaConnect chargers installed at 10370 Richmond in the Towers at Westchase.

The charging stations located at office buildings are not as obvious, since they’re almost always installed in the parking garage that is accessible to office tenants only. Hines recently installed eight chargers at the Towers of Westchase, 10350 and 10370 Richmond. “We’re always thinking about how to create value through our ESG (environmental, social, governance) actions,” said Hines’ Brian Boswell, who manages the two-building office complex. “We also want to create tenant satisfaction. Installing the EV charging stations at the Towers at Westchase served both of those desires.”

Boswell said the most recent building census indicated there are few EV drivers at the buildings. But Boswell expects that number to grow. “Our current users love the fact that they can charge at work in less than four hours and get to and from the office,” said Boswell.

Granite leads the charge

Chase Crawford, general manager of Granite Properties, installed charging stations at Granite’s two Westchase District properties in 2019 courtesy of the Electrify American program, financed by Volkswagon. The ten EV charging stations, powered by SemaConnect, were installed for customers at Granite’s Briarpark Green (3151 Briarpark) and 2925 Briarpark.  “We installed them as a customer amenity and as part of our commitment to reduce our environmental impact,” said Crawford.

Granite established a sliding scale fee for users that offers the first two hours free and incrementally increases the fee if the user charges for longer than two hours. “A customer can charge for four hours for four dollars,” said Crawford. “After that, the fee increases. It encourages the customer to charge their vehicle, and then move it so that other customers may use it.” While usage at the Westchase District buildings has been limited, he expects demand to increase as the number of EV vehicles increases. In comparison, Crawford says the chargers at Granite’s Weslayan Tower stay full all the time. “They provide our customers with reliable access to EV charging to get to their next destination,” said Crawford.

OnCue adds EV to traditional fuel options

The right fit: The FreeWire EV chargers are a popular addition to the fueling options available at OnCue, 10612 Westheimer

Phillips 66 made waves in Houston in late 2020 when it opened OnCue, its state-of-the-art convenience store with 24 fueling locations. Add four more fueling locations to that total with the addition of FreeWire EV charging stations at OnCue. Chris Gilliland, Managing Director, Business Development at Phillips 66, said the FreeWire charger has a “lighter touch” than other Level 3 high speed chargers. It connects to existing infrastructure, thereby reducing installation costs.

He notes that depending on the vehicle and how depleted the battery is when charging begins, the battery can be charged for 100 miles in as little as 10-15 minutes, or it could charge for 300 miles in 30-45 minutes. “The transition from fuel to EV charging is not free. However, we believe that consumers will pay for the convenience. They want to be able to get to their next destination as quickly as possible,” said Gilliland.

Customers download an app, or they can tap their credit card to access charging at $0.40 cents per kilowatt hour. Unlike petroleum-based fuel products, Gilliland said the price should remain stable. “Customers are finding the EV charging stations without a lot of promotion,” said Gilliland.