Tesla laying off the Supercharger team

That’s not correct. The electrical systems in these stores are designed to handle a wide range of electrical load, because WalMart knows that the electrical demands of the store can vary wildly over the life of the building. Over the years, you’ll have more (or fewer) electronic items in the store - all those TV’s, computers, refrigerated cases (either just for drinks near the check-out line or for full grocery) suck up power, and are going to dwarf the electrical load of a handful of chargers in the parking lot. WalMart isn’t designing these buildings to require replacing the transformer vaults and electrical panels if the load goes up by that amount. There’s a ton of extra capacity build in to accommodate potential future needs over the life of the building.


So I drove to the local WalMart with EV chargers today. The parking lot is fairly old, much older than the EV (Electrify America) chargers which were installed last year. There is no asphalt repair anywhere near them, and the chargers are 100 yards from the WalMart on one side and the Sam’s on the other. No poles. So the line had to be brought in underground via DitchWitch or similar, and it’s impossible for me to tell where it originates.

The point is, I guess, that the line doesn’t have to come from the building at all. Maybe it comes from the power lines outside the property, or perhaps it is tapped from the main panels serving the facilities which are huge. (They have to handle the A/C or heating needs, depending on season, all refrigerated cases in the grocery area, TV section, general lighting, and of course computers and cameras throughout the store, and have enough headroom never to strain under that load. I suppose it’s possible that they could throttle the EV chargers and prioritize the store if it ever came to that.)

But I would guess, and it’s only a guess, that the power is independent of the store. On the same island as the 4 charger bay is a large nondescript cabinet. Really large. Big enough to handle multiple meters, cables, switching gear, etc. It’s easy to envision a straight shot from pole to cabinet and thence to chargers.’

The payoff for Walmart is drawing in a crowd that might not ordinarily shop there, giving them 20-30 minutes to kill (and visit the store), get rent from EA, and learn how to do this at their already existing locations with minimal disruption.

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So it was likely added after the stores were built. Which means there are no (not yet, anyway) chargers for the loading docks. Be interesting to see what happens as EV delivery trucks begin to be used by their suppliers.

That’s another point. Any charging at the loading dock is probably going to be high speed DC charging. They want to get as much charge as they can into the truck while it has to be stopped.

Customer charging could be level 2 charging, particularly if the want to keep the chargers simple and avoid all of the billing hardware. Let customers use the chargers for free.


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WalMart is not in the “free” business. The chargers they have already deployed are Level 3, and are well used, which I’m sure is why they are rolling them out nationwide. I don’t claim to know the aspects of the deal, but WalMart is surely being compensated for use of their parking lot. (They have lost perhaps a total of 8 spaces: 4 for charging, and another 4 to house the “giant cabinet” which presumably holds the metering, switching, and other equipment.)

Level 2 charging is a come-on for companies like at Whole Foods or an employee or apartment building perk. It’s not a real business, and not something WalMart (or similar) is likely to embrace.

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This is a completely different business model. Actually two models:

  1. One model is using the chargers as a way to entice people to use your store instead of the other store a block or two away. WalMart doesn’t have that issue because people specifically CHOOSE to go to WalMart for various other reasons (mostly price).
  2. The second model is “prestige”, if you position yourself as a higher-end location, nicer stores (such as Whole Foods), then having a few chargers is expected by your clientele for their convenience. That clientele has higher than average incomes and has a much higher percentage of EV ownership. This is also why TopGolf has free chargers at many of their locations.

It’s also worth remembering the very important point raised upthread - the government is paying hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize chargers over the next few years. It doesn’t take a whole lot to have a charger pencil out if the government is picking up all (or most) of the capital cost.