In the midst of a somewhat confusing membership-driven market for electric vehicle charging, a Volkswagen-owned firm starting up a new network is making paid membership optional for its consumers.
If you don’t own an electric vehicle, you may not be aware of this, but the industry is heavily structured around membership currently.
Generally, charging networks offer membership to their users—which includes deep discounts and a degree of exclusivity.
According to InsideEVs, the market is dominated by four charging networks—ChargePoint, Tesla, Blink, and SemaCharge. These networks have differences, including how much they favor alternating current or direct current charging. ChargePoint, for example, is more heavily focused on AC charging, while a smaller competitor, the EVgo Network, dominates the DC fast-charging category. (Tesla, whose offering is proprietary, straddles both types of charging.)
These programs aren’t totally new, but they can prove challenging for consumers because the membership programs are not compatible with one another.
But an upstart player is changing things up by taking a less-aggressive approach to membership. Electrify America, a Volkswagen subsidiary that was formed as a part of that company’s multi-billion-dollar settlement in a diesel emissions scandal, is launching a membership program of its own, with additional discounts for those who sign up.
However, ArsTechnica notes that the program has a crucial distinction: It doesn’t require membership, and it gives options to consumers who use its service. And because the settlement requires the service to be neutral to any car manufacturer, it won’t require any specific commitment from consumers to use.
“Our chargers will be open access, with no membership needed. There will be flexible pricing products; embedded programs, Electrify America membership, and also pay at the station,” Electrify America COO Brendan Jones told the outlet.
The firm, which just announced pricing and released an official app this week, will charge $4 per month for membership, which will provide additional discounts to consumers on top of the current fee—$1 per session and a per-minute rate that tops out at 99 cents for fast chargers and 25 cents for slow chargers. On its website, the company says the membership plan will save consumers about 20 percent per minute and will be particularly effective for frequent chargers.
“We prioritize customer satisfaction and are constantly innovating to enhance the EV charging experience,” Electrify America President and CEO Giovanni Palazzo told InsideEVs. “With new membership plans, reduced pricing, and a mobile app that makes charging with us easier than ever, we are confident that a growing number of consumers will consider making their next vehicle purchase an EV.”
If your association is facing competition of this nature, it’s often useful to consider a pricing strategy that zags when your competitors zig.