Consumers are a fickle lot, especially when it comes to purchasing a car. The emotional decision of choosing your ride, however, does not necessarily extend to the charging station for drivers of electric vehicles.
Most people respond to price, and buying a charging station is no different. After extensive market testing, Bosch has responded with a $450 Level 2 240-volt EV charger for the home. The price point is less than half of most other Level 2 chargers available on the market today.
“The number-one issue for consumers to adopt a Level 2 charger is price sensitivity,” said Tanvir Arfi, president of Bosch Automotive Service Solutions.
The basic technology is the same as Bosch’s Power Xpress, which sells for $950. The new model, Power Max, is not networked, so it cannot talk to the utility or the connected home. Although that might seem like a major drawback, most EV-to-grid projects are still in the research phase. For the average consumer, it will be a long time before their car is a demand-response device.
The Power Max also has a 12-foot cable instead of an 18- or 25-foot cable. “The largest cost of the charger is the cord and the connector,” explained Arfi. The $450 version charges at 16 amps, but there is an 18-foot cord, 30-amp model for $600.
Bosch has sold more than 16,000 home charging stations worldwide, although the Power Max model will only be available in the U.S. market at this time. A lower-priced European model will be released in the future.
Unlike some other brands, which can be purchased from big-box stores or through dealer programs, Bosch will sell the Power Max directly to customers through its website. “People who are buying EVs are very well-researched consumers,” said Arfi, adding that sometimes people know what charger they want before they settle on the car.
If utility networking programs for electric vehicles come on-line in the next few years, Arfi said that there could be an exchange program for customers who would then want the added networking features.
“Because many of the incentives available to offset the costs of purchasing and installing residential Level 2 charging stations are expiring, we believe it’s critical to maintain the momentum towards Level 2 by offering high-quality, lower-cost charging solutions to our customers,” said Arfi.
The low price will have to compete with the convenience of dealer programs, such as Nissan’s deal with AeroVironment to bundle the cost of the charger with the car financing. AeroVironment was also just named the preferred installation partner for Ford’s line of EVs and plug-in hybrids. Bosch, however, is the preferred Level 2 charger for the Chevy Volt.
Bosch is currently taking orders for the new chargers, and the first shipments will go out in June.