Home » A Daydreaming Designer Attempts To Bring EV Charging Stations Into The Late Twentieth Century

A Daydreaming Designer Attempts To Bring EV Charging Stations Into The Late Twentieth Century

We Can Do Better

The orange LOW FUEL light has been on in your car for a few days now, so you probably should do something about it, right? If you’re driving a seventies or eighties American car, it’s likely that your gas gauge was on FULL forever and then dropped like a stone as they all did, so you don’t know what to trust. You pull into the nearest station and are shocked at what you see. Tiny, low gas pumps out in the open, no protection from the elements. Short little hoses that force you to position your car to match their length. Which pumps are in use, and which are not? How much time until that car in front of me is done? Have I been transported back to, say, 1955 or something?

Gas Pumps
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Welcome to the world of today’s EV user. There are many things that we need to keep in mind with this new infrastructure, even the etiquette for plugging and unplugging other people’s vehicles as discussed by Jason a little while back. Still, we’re ignoring one of the other areas that needs some more thought- charging stations.

Many if not most of today’s charging ‘stations’ are very minimalistic units, not unlike the gasoline pumps that used to exist at fueling stations nearly a century ago. In fact, they look almost exactly like modern versions of those pumps.

source: US Army



Sure, recharging an electric vehicle is not the same as filling a tank with the remnants of dead dinosaurs, but there are many of the same challenges which gas stations have faced and dealt with over the years. Why have EV charging designers and manufacturers seemed to ignore the advancements that were made to gas pumps and try to incorporate more of them into these electric equivalents?


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First, most EV stations seemed to be designed in a similar vein to the Tesla Superchargers; devices created by a company that is headquartered where the weather is always nice (correction- the weather was nice until David Tracy moved there).




Here in the frozen tundra, these chargers at nearby Northbrook Court mall have cables that fall nicely onto the ground in the water or slush to the point where if you were going to be nice enough to try to hang them back onto the provided peg you’d want a hand cleaning rag and sanitizer in your car all of the time. Yikes.

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Also, have you tried to swipe your phone or operate the controls on an EV charger in the rain or snow? There is a reason why virtually all filling stations now have some form of covering over the pumps. The tall height of an awning also allows you to see where the charging station is from across a parking lot.

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Arch Vac


There’s another advantage to a tall unit: you can mount the cords up high as is done on most gas pumps, making it easier to get some distance to the cables without having them in a big pile on the ground. We could even take it a step further by using a concept employed by vacuums at many car washes today. A pivoting arm (that naturally goes back to a set position) that holds the vacuum hose makes cleaning debris out of your carpets without having to chase a long, dirty hose though your interior is a game changer.

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Arch Vac


This same idea could be used to deal with the issue of every EV having a plug in a different location (and I hate backing into parking spaces, even if the car does it itself). The cable could also reel itself back in but honestly you might not need it for cord management with the hanging system.

The awning cover could have LED lights in it for night use (even charged by solar panels on the opposite side of the awning).

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These things look expensive as hell. How will we pay for them? I don’t want to pay gas prices for a charge. Well, how does this fabulous website stay in business? What are those images you see stuck in the middle of this post I wrote? Advertising, baby!

There’s plenty of room for sponsors to constantly pump messages to these things (front and back), aimed at the target audience and set for the time of day (after 10:30AM you’ll get lunch deals, for example). Yet the screen has a functional purpose as well. There’s a display at the top to tell you if the charger is in use. This display also tells you how long it will be until the car currently tethered to the charger has left before it’s ready to go (or to be unplugged). The green bar on top of the unit glows at light if the unit is available.

Wait, couldn’t these charge station also offer vacuums and tire air as well? Maybe even a washer fluid dispenser to save all of the plastic jugs. Plus, according to Tesla that’s the only maintenance an EV needs. You could get it for free or pay with whatever app the charger is on.

Twenty first century transportation technology deserves supporting components that are at least as good as ones from the late twentieth century, doesn’t it?




Here’s An Idea For The Gas-To-EV Charging Station Transition: Shipping Containers – The Autopian

How The Indian Carmaker Tata Could Hypothetically Revive The Honda Element As A Sub-$20,000 EV – The Autopian

These Are The Rules Of Electric Car Charging Etiquette – The Autopian

I Asked Our Daydreaming Designer To Imagine What Would Happen If Sony And A Lawnmower Engine Company Made Hybrid Cars In The 1980s – The Autopian

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6 months ago

How many people bought ICE cars before there were gas stations in town? Just saying.

1 year ago

Thinking of the ad idea… I’d love to see targeted ads that the user gets some control over. For example let the end user get to chose if ads play (w/ a XX cent per kwh discount) or not.
And if you select for the ads to play you get to chose the type of ads you want to see/hear from a menu.
For example if you’re a visitor or new to the area you might actually want to see local tourism ads…
The power is in giving people a choice & small financial incentive

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
1 year ago

Furthermore, that giant screen can be used to order food from inside the location you parked at and have it run out to your car (or you go inside and grab it). Think of the McDonald’s kiosks they have inside now, or the order screens at Wawa/Sheetz.
They also need at least a couple pull-throughs for vehicles that are towing so they don’t have to disconnect their trailers.

Last edited 1 year ago by Anthony Magagnoli
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