A few weeks ago, my husband posited that he had solved the electric vehicle infrastructure crisis when it came to charging. “Hotel chains just need to partner with EV charging chains,” he said. “Imagine if you could plan a road trip around the fact that every Holiday Inn between you and your destination had a charger for your car.” And I have to admit: he has a point, and it’s given me an interesting thought experiment.
America is one of the few places in the world where just about every single highway off-ramp looks the same. Gaze over the horizon at most highly-populated highway exits, and there’s a good chance you’ll find the same gas station companies, the same fast food brands, and the same hotel chains. Why not take advantage of our rampant capitalism and turn it into a good thing for the electric vehicle world?
Now, my husband and I went back and forth about why hotel chains make more sense than, say, a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s. It’s rare to find a highway exit without a McDonald’s, and it seems like EV owners could benefit from the higher density of chargers.
But my man had good reasoning: Charging still takes time, and most hotels are better designed for hanging out for an extended period of time than a McDonald’s, where you just get your food and go. Hotels usually have cozier seating and often have some vaguely more interesting food options. You can normally log onto a hotel computer. And the hotels that do add chargers could easily transform part of the lobby or a conference room into a “wait for your car to charge” area. It wouldn’t require a serious alteration to the hotel layout in order to make a comfy waiting area, whereas sitting at a McDonald’s for 45 minutes sounds miserable.
Hotels also make sense because anyone taking a long road trip will probably need to stop to sleep at some point, and there’s no guarantee your hotel will have a charger nearby.
Would it solve all of the EV infrastructure problems we have in the world? No, absolutely not. But I have a feeling we’d be better served letting the forces of capitalism take hold in the form of hotels using EV chargers to make money, as opposed to waiting for the federal government to step in and make something happen.