One way to cure “range anxiety” is to have charging stations as numerous and convenient as gas stations. That’s what Sun Country Highway has set out to do – build a chain of stations from the Maritimes to the West Coast.
It’s not just convenient, Sun Country execs reason it’s lucrative. After all, when EV owners charge up, they’ll have time on their hands. And that means they’re likely to go shopping. That’s why the company is looking to station its chargers in malls. The same reasoning explains why the company is looking to hotel and motel chains as natural sites.
“The idea is you give the customer in question a reason to stay in the store for another 10, 15 minutes, half an hour, while their car is charging. In all likelihood they’re going to shop more,” explained Dave Rowlison, Sun Country’s director of national development.
“Whether it’s a big-box retail complex, whether it’s a hospital, I’m dealing with a hospital and downtown Toronto right now that’s going to do six of these in their underground parking, so you know you’re taking your spouse, taking your kid to the hospital, you need to plug in your car.”
Sun Country has a deal, he says, with the Best Western Hotel chain to put chargers in every one of its locations. That should make the a mecca for EV-driving travelers .
“One of our biggest partners right now is Best Western hotels. We got the rights to be in, and will be in, every single Best Western hotel across Canada, eventually.”
He explains the Sun Country profit model thusly: “They can charge $4 for a charge, let’s say. Even though the cost of charge is maybe less than a buck, you can charge $4 and give like 50 per cent of that to World Wildlife Federation, or Toronto Sustainability or Toronto Atmospheric Fund. Then they compound their whole marketing branding benefit.”
Rowlinson says Sun Country, founded by Kent Rathwell, has been in business for nearly 18 months and is all-Canadian.