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Aloha puts in fast-charging EV units. Aloha Petroleum on Wednesday unveiled a Level 3 fast charger at Aloha Island Mart in Kahala. It is capable of fully charging an electric vehicle in less than 30 minutes. Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, left, and Richard Parry, president and CEO of Aloha Petroleum, demonstrated the charger. Dennis Oda / doda@staradvertiser.com [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]
(Honolulu Star-Advertiser)  Aloha Petroleum Wednesday became the first gasoline station chain in the state to offer fast chargers capable of delivering a full charge to a nearly depleted electric vehicle battery in less than 30 minutes.

The high-voltage “Level 3” units installed by AeroVironment allow EV owners to “fill up” considerably faster than the four to six hours it takes using lower-voltage “Level 2” chargers found at most public charge spots around the island.

The move by Aloha Petroleum illustrates how businesses are adapting to public demand for infrastructure to support Hawaii’s growing EV market.

“Use of electric vehicles is steadily increasing on Oahu. As our customers’ driving habits evolve we’re proud to provide innovative, clean and reliable ways to fuel their vehicles, whether its gas-powered or electric,” said Richard Parry, Aloha Petroleum president and chief executive officer.

The fast chargers were installed at three locations on Oahu: Aloha Island Mart Kahala, Aloha Island Mart Waipio-Gentry and Kailua Shell. Aloha Petroleum acquired Shell’s Hawaii assets in 2010.

Aloha Petroleum will allow customers to charge their vehicles for free until the end of the year, Parry said. The company hasn’t decided how much customers will be charged after that, he said.

The chargers, which cost about $50,000 apiece, were installed by AeroVironment and partly paid for through a federal grant designed to encourage the adoption of EVs.

Parry said Aloha Petroleum decided to have the charging stations installed because the market for transportation fuels is evolving.

“Gasoline demand is down 10 percent from its peak. We don’t know how it will play out, but we will be seeing changes over the next five years,” Parry said. “Gasoline will still be the major product for use in passenger vehicles, but we will see alternative fuels pick up more of the market. The traditional gas station model will have to change,” he said.

Aloha Petroleum will evaluate use of its fast charge stations and make a decision by year’s end on whether to install units at more of its locations, Parry said. “We’re going to see how this plays out to see if there is consumer demand for more of them.”

Both AeroVironment and its main competitor in Hawaii, Better Place, use a subscription-based payment model at public charging stations in which a swipe card with a radio frequency identification chip is used to keep track of how much electricity is used. AeroVironment and Better Place provide the back office operations that record the transactions. The electricity can either be paid for by the host of the charging station or the consumer, depending on the arrangement.

In the case of Aloha Petroleum, it holds the subscription and loans the swipe cards to customers so they can access the charging stations. AeroVironment’s computer system keeps track of the amount of electricity dispensed and Aloha Petroleum pays the electric bill.

Another company that installs EV charging stations locally, Honolulu-based Volta Industries, offers free electricity using an advertising based model. Volta installs chargers at shopping centers and pays for the electricity with revenue from advertisers who pay to have their names on the units.