7-Eleven’s 7Charge App Works Very Well
Convenience stores are important players in the transition to electric vehicles due to their ability to provide more than just charging services. As we’ve covered before here at CleanTechnica, convenience stores across the country are already beginning to install public chargers, both Level 2 and Level 3 DC fast charging. This is especially beneficial for those who live in urban areas and have limited access to home or workplace charging, as it allows people to get charging in their neighborhood while doing other things, like grabbing that gallon of milk they forgot to get during the weekly supermarket trip.
In addition to gas and snacks, many convenience stores have long offered other services, such as vehicle maintenance and supplies (including things EVs still need, like wiper fluid), car washes, ATMs, and even restaurant-style food or full-on fast food restaurants under the same roof. This makes convenience store charging important to not only apartment dwellers, but also for people on road trips, professional drivers (including drivers of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft), and people who just need to add a few extra miles on those unexpectedly long days of errands.
So, it should be no surprise that 7-Eleven (aka 7-11), the popular and well-known global chain of convenience stores, is getting in on the action. But, I’m pretty impressed with the serious effort they’ve put into this so far. We already covered this story a few days ago, but in this article, I’m going to take a quick look at the company’s app. First, let’s review the announcement for those who don’t want to click the link (feel free to scroll past the next section if you already read Zach’s article).
7-11 Gets Into EV Charging
The company is not only installing stations, but actually announced 7Charge, its very own electric vehicle charging network (complete with an app) that aims to provide drivers with a reliable and convenient fast-charging experience at participating stores in the U.S., and soon Canada. With this launch, 7-Eleven says it seeks to create one of the largest and most compatible electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging networks across North America.
Currently, CCS and CHAdeMO drivers (including Tesla drivers with either adapter) have access to fast-charging services in states such as Florida, Texas, Colorado, and California, but the company clearly has plans to expand to stores in most other states.
“For over 95 years, 7-Eleven has innovated to meet our customers’ needs — delivering convenience where, when and how they want it,” said Joe DePinto, President and Chief Executive Officer at 7-Eleven. “Now, we are innovating once again to meet our customers’ where they are by expanding our business to provide EV drivers convenience of the future … today.”
According to the company, the 7Charge network strives to help keep up with the increasing consumer demand for EV charging infrastructure. By complementing existing fast-charging networks and expanding its own, 7-Eleven says a key priority is to bring EV charging to communities that have previously had limited access, as many of their stores are already located in those areas. This will help drivers recharge more conveniently and reliably when they need it most, while bringing more equity and inclusion to the overall CCS and CHAdeMO charging networks.
The company has not given us any specifics about how many stations it intends to put in, and over what timeframe it intends to do this (but we are going to bother the company’s reps on Twitter about this and let readers know what they say). However, the company did tell the media that once 7Charge’s expansion is complete, 7-Eleven will have one of the largest and most compatible EV fast-charging networks in North America. This network will span across the entire family of 7-Eleven brands, including Speedway® and Stripes® stores, providing customers with more options than just 7-Eleven branded stores.
I’m Pretty Impressed With The App, But Need To Go Test It Out
Once I was done reading over the press release, I decided to see whether the company’s 7Charge app was any good. You can get the app for your phone at the 7Charge webpage. I “test drove” the app on my Android phone.
The biggest thing that impressed me after setting it up was how fast it is. Many EV charging apps are slow to load and it’s slow to move around maps, pick out stations, etc. I don’t know whether 7-Eleven developed this in-house or farmed it out to a professional app development company, but either way, it seems pretty clear that they optimized it to reduce headaches and hangups. It’s a well-optimized, snappy app.
When you get registered and open it, you can see a prominent charging button, which brings you to a screen where you can scan a QR code on a charging station to start a session easily. Or, if you can’t scan the code, you can also enter the station ID manually. From what I read from reviewers in the app, you can also swipe a debit or credit card at stations and skip the app altogether, but this usually puts a $30 hold on debit cards.
To the left side of the charge button, you can also bring up a map of stations. In my part of the country (New Mexico), the map is pretty barren as of this writing, but I found stations in California, Colorado, further east in Texas, and in several other states. The map has an option to include “roaming stations,” but that didn’t bring up anything new as of now. I’m guessing that 7-11 plans to partner with other charging providers for a more seamless experience for people who fall in love with the 7Charge app.
In the account section, you can add details like a payment method and your make and model of EV. You can also adjust notification settings. And you can see past sessions (something I won’t be able to do very soon).
Next time I get out on a road trip where there’s a 7Charge station, I’ll do what I did with Phillips 66 and go try it out. If the app is any indication, the experience will probably be good. But, in the meantime, if you live near a 7Charge station, or if you’ve charged at one, feel free to beat me to it! Just be sure to share your experience in the comments or reply to us on social media to share your experience for other readers.
Featured image provided by 7-Eleven.
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