This week marked the first time ever I charged my electric scooter outside of home or work. This actually seems strange to write but made me think and wonder about the usage of my scooter.
Until now, I charged my scooter at home or work, went out for a city trip and charged back up at one of the aforementioned locations. But Wrocław has 16 charging stations to pick from and I finally tested our city’s charging infrastructure.
I believe it has to be said that an electric vehicle owner is always aware of range vs. juice left in the battery. We don’t just get up and go. We think how far we need to get and most importantly, how far our vehicle will allow us to go. This mentality comes natural to us. But knowing that there are charge stations placed around Wrocław I now may plan my trips just a little bit differently.
Charge stations around Wrocław are operated by a company called Galactico and charging points can be easily found on a map Galactico provides on their site http://www.galactico.pl I did find a discrepancy in numbers of charge stations between the map of http://www.galactico.com and http://www.ChargeMap.com, in that ChargeMap has more locations. I would have to verify that.
Now there is a catch to being able to plug in with Galactico: you must first register and get a magnetic Galactico card. There’s no possibility of entering your credit card info at the charger location, or even to do it over the phone. One must first register online and wait for a card in the mail.
I’ve had my card for over a year now, but of course as soon as I placed it near the reader the display told me it wasn’t activated. I almost gave up on charging but noticed a phone number on the card and gave it a try. An actual human representative picked up just after a single dial tone and totally threw me off. I was expecting a “Press 1 for…” and then a “Sorry, we’re closed” message since it was already 7:30pm. Instead I heard a friendly “Hello”. The customer representative quickly solved my card issue and waited on the phone while I plugged in and began charging. Now that’s customer service!!!
Naturally I wanted to find out as much as possible about the company so I asked a few questions, like “why do I have an Unlimited balance on my card?” It seems that other than the initial 20pln ($6usd) I paid to register, charging at the station is completely free. This must be due to the very little popularity of the system and lack of actual electric vehicles to charge, but sounds like an awesome news to me. Charge around town, free of charge!
The actual operation of plugging in, charging, and unplugging felt standard yet new. The door on the charger is closed so that no one can unplug the scooter. Never having to use a public charger that was new to me. But of course new was the entire experience.
I have one very important issue with the system though: there is not a single charge station in the city center! Not even one. And that’s the spot I (and I’m sure many others) would charge the most at. But I’m fairly certain I am going to change my city riding habits now that I know how easy it is to fill up my scooter.