The EVThing in Cuero Serves a Menu for Boosting EV Awareness
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EV CHARGING

The EVThing in Cuero Serves a Menu for Boosting EV Awareness

EVThing Cuero Texas at dusk
  • The EVThing is a unique destination that offers visitors Texas barbecue and an EV charging service in the city of Cuero.
  • A terrific charging experience happens when the charging aspect is secondary to other activities, which this offers to its customers.
  • If The EVThing could also offer EV charging education as part of its overall atmosphere, that could really help grow EV adoption.

Texas is a big state, and though a fair number of EVs are registered there, the number of public EV charging stations is pitifully small. Finding charging on a long road trip — and most road trips in Texas are pretty long (trust me, I grew up there) — can be challenging.


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If you’re driving from Austin to the Gulf Coast, however, you can stop at The EVThing in Cuero to, as the tagline says, “fast charge your car, body, and mind.” The EVThing is a combination restaurant and charging station that offers the kind of experience that will help convince more drivers to go electric.

“The concept of range anxiety is very real in Texas,” Allen Gilmer, founder and partner in The EVThing, told Electrify News in an interview. “Everything is 200 miles away.”

The EVThing offers ChadeMo and CCS charging on its single FreeWire commercial EV charging station. The ChadeMo port has been used only twice so far, Gilmer said ruefully.

Usage of the charging station is growing, however. When it was first installed, it was used once every other day, he said. Now it has five or ten folks stopping to charge every few days. It helps that it is the only DC fast charging station in five counties, according to Gilmer.

Users are mostly “folks coming to or from the big city,” Gilmer said, “or kids of locals living in the city now.”


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EV Charging Service, Plus Barbecue!

Image care of Allen Gilmer

While their EV is charging, owners and families can avail themselves of The EVThing’s gelato bar, grab breakfast or sample some Texas barbeque, and try some of the 39 self-service beers, hard ciders, and meads on tap.

Alcohol intake is controlled to keep people safe on the roads, of course. “The whole system, there is to limit how much you can pour over a certain amount of time,” Gilmer said. 


From Oil and Gas to The EVThing in Cuero

Entrepreneur Gilmer, a former oilman, travels often between Austin and the Gulf Coast, passing through Cuero, a town of around 8,000 where Gilmer’s wife is from.

Though he drives a RAM pickup, Gilmer noticed the lack of charging. He also realized that even with fast charging, an EV is going to be parked for half an hour or so while charging.

He thought about Buc-ees, a chain of travel stops known for, among other things, very clean bathrooms. That clean bathroom promise drew families in to fill up with gas. To give them something to do in the 10 minutes it took to fill up, Buc-ees shops now sell everything from food to souvenirs. One of its 48 current locations holds the (dubious in my mind) record as world’s largest convenience store.

“It was all built around how long it takes to fuel your car,” Gilmer said. “They proved they could scale it up.”

So, if it takes an EV 30 minutes or more to charge, “What are the families going to do?” at his charger, he asked himself. The EVThing in Cuero was the answer.


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The Optimal EV Charging Service

Image care of Allen Gilmer

Gilmer was onto something when he added gelato and barbecue to the charging experience.

J.D. Power’s data found that the typical DC fast charging still takes around 30 minutes, and the majority of fast charging takes place by owners on road trips, Brent Gruber, the executive director of J.D. Power’s EV Practice told Electrify News via email.

Many public EV charging stations lack access to “simple basic amenities” such as restrooms, trash cans, and covered parking, he said, though that is changing.

However, “the optimal convenience for public charging … is when the charging is secondary to other activities,” Gruber said. “If EV owners are able to take advantage of charging while shopping, eating, parking for work or hotel stays, etc., that is an ideal scenario.”


Image care of Rove Charging

Rove Charging, based in Southern California, has taken that to heart. It aims to open an initial six “full service EV charging centers” with 40 fast chargers each. Those chargers will be covered, and the center will also offer a lounge to check email and have an espresso along with a “curated” market with grab-and-go food, among other amenities. 


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Convincing Potential EV Buyers to Take the Leap

Gilmer calls The EVThing in Cuero “a big experiment,” but he is a businessman. It’s not a labor of love. Expansion is in the works. On a small scale, customers have asked if he can add a kid’s playground and a dog park. Tesla has also approached him about adding a Supercharger.  

Gilmer is waiting to see if the business model proves itself, “the idea being that if we can figure this out in this one location, then we will have something pretty valuable we can take to other places,” he said. Business is growing monthly.

At the current location in Cuervo, and future locations, he also should add some information about EV ownership and charging.

Prospective EV buyers have the same concerns as EV owners, Gruber said, including charging availability, reliability, and range anxiety. “When it comes to potential EV owners, we consistently see that there is a fundamental issue with the lack of education and awareness for EV usage,” he said.

If The EVThing in Cuero can dish that up with some barbecue and beer, it might make owning an EV a pretty tasty proposition.


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FEATURE IMAGE: ALLEN GILMER

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AUTHOR: 

ALYSHA WEBB

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