Are RV Parks Our Best Electric Car Charging Network?

Posted by Andrew Price


One big question facing the early adopters of the electric car: Where do I charge the thing? Many cities are working to build a network of charging stations, but it will be years before even the most aggressive efforts result in anything as ubiquitous and convenient as the gas station.

So maybe we repurpose existing facilities in the meantime. RV parks, as it turns out, already have EV-ready, high-output electrical connections, and electric car owners have noticed:

According to the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, six campgrounds north and east of Washington, D.C. and one campground in California have started welcoming EV owners looking to plug into the 50 amp, 240 volt charging stations that provide juice to parked RVs. In just four hours they’re good to go again.

Over at Gas 2.0, Jo Borras pulled up a map of the existing KOA Campgrounds in the United States. The coverage is is pretty good. In fact, this is probably as close to a national high-output charging network as America has.

At the moment, it can take hours to charge an electric car, so if you're going to try to do that on the road, it's nice to be in a place that is more pleasant (if only marginally so) than a gas station or strip mall. This also represents a business opportunity for the RV parks. Wired reports that one park in Greensboro, Maryland charges $8.50 for a four-hour charge. That's a mark-up over the straight electricity costs for the campground, but significantly cheaper than gas. Everybody wins.

The big problem for this idea, of course, is that it is still only practical for people on extended roadtrips who aren't in a rush. As much as I hate to say it, stopping every 200 miles for a four-hour charge just isn't something you can do unless you're on vacation. The RV parks might want to think about branding as well. I'm not sure how much natural overlap there is between the Nissan Leaf market and the RV demographic.