Taco Bell franchisee adds electric charging stations to menu

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Electric vehicle ownership is on the rise, with electric vehicle registrations in the US reportedly up 60 percent in the first quarter of 2022. The Pew Research Center reports that those most likely to consider purchasing an electric car in the future are younger adults, city dwellers, Democrats and those who already own a hybrid or all-electric car, with a majority of 55% of adults aged 18 to 29 say they are very likely or somewhat inclined to consider an electric car the next time they buy a vehicle.

And that demographic is exactly the target audience of fast food brand Taco Bell, which recently introduced the first superfast electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the parking lot of one of their franchise locations in South San Francisco.

A collaboration between fast food brand and provider of EV charging stations seems like a perfect match. As more and more electric vehicles appear on our roads, the demand for on-the-go charging points will skyrocket. And where better to place them than where there are not only unused parking spaces, as an increasing number of fast food customers are opting for drive-thru and delivery options over dine-in, but also somewhere where the driver and company can grab a quick drink and have a bite to eat. This most recent three-way collaboration between Diversified restaurant group, a Taco Bell franchisee with more than 300 Taco Bell locations, Australia-based global charger manufacturer Tritium and ChargeNet, the EV fast charging and software company, enables Taco Bell customers to charge 100 miles in 20 minutes for under $20 while enjoying a quick pit stop for a chalupa or burrito. The first launch in San Francisco, with the charging point’s first customers plugging in in October, is the first of 100 California Taco Bell “electrifications” planned over the next year.

Why California for this new initiative? In August 2022, the California Air Resources Board announced that all new vehicles sold would become mandatory California by 2035 electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. And so, since gas-only car sales will be squeezed all the way out of the state for the next decade or so, it makes sense that the state would be the first to see this partnership rolled out. ChargeNet has already confirmed that it is pursuing a niche by positioning its charging stations in fast food locations, with CEO Tosh Dutt highlighting the high footfall and easy access to the locations, which are mostly located along major routes and highways, but also often in areas where home charging points are less common, as the main reasons for going in this direction.

“We are committed to catalyzing the EV revolution to ensure it extends across all demographics,” says Dutt. “That’s why we’re partnering with quick-service restaurants, where an estimated 120 million Americans eat every day. About half of our locations are in marginalized California communities, giving people who don’t have the luxury of charging at home access to charging.” We are committed to democratizing electric vehicle charging throughout California and beyond

This collaboration between the Mexican-style franchise brand and an EV charging tech company isn’t the first of its kind. Earlier this year Tim Hortons has added TurnOnGreen’s Level 3 electric vehicle chargers to a small number of its Canadian locations, a move delayed by a few years due to the pandemic. The coffee and donut brand has actually long been a pioneer in harnessing the power of EV technology, testing charging stations at locations in Ontario and British Columbia as far back as 2013. Starbucks has recently started working together with ChargePoint and Volvo to install up to 60 Volvo-branded charging points at 15 of its locations. And here in the UK, Costa Coffee has teamed up with InstaVolt to introduce fast charging points at some of its drive-thru locations.

The partnership between Taco Bell, Tritium and ChargeNet will access funding from the California Energy Commission’s California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP) and the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). With sustainability high on the agenda as we head into 2023, a partnership that is energy efficient, offers greater accessibility to fast EV charging points and allows drivers to fuel up with food and drink seems like a big win-win for all involved.

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