An ideal place to see the possibilities of the electric vehicle market slammed by cruel reality is Eastern Europe and Prague.
(Personal side-note: I was in Prague during a post-grad school European trip in 2007, and two general themes from those four days still reverberate. The first is that for all of Prague’s beauty, there are some really nasty parts in town, especially in the areas surrounding the subways. The second is to never argue about hidden “plate fees” in the restaurants. Our party was kicked out by an older Italian woman from her pizza cafe after my antagonistic Greek friend challenged the honesty of the “plate fee” practice. When asked why he went after the woman so vehemently (we had to pull him out of the conflict), he answered, “because I’m a man of principal and Greek. That means I’m hot-headed and cheap.”)
Prague has more to offer than just Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, bad pizza places and heroin addicts shooting up at subway stops. They have McDonalds. And a certain special McDonalds in the city, with the help of Czech power company CEZ AS, will house a charging station for electric cars.
This will be the first EV station in a McDonald’s, and the 25th overall opened by CEZ in the Czech Republic. There are a total of 90 McDonald’s operating in the country, so if driving to a Mickey D’s in your electric car and catching a Happy Meal with the family and letting your kids run wild in the ball pits sounds fun, this should be amazing news.
Alas, here’s where market potential and reality collide. McDonald’s defines mainstream and ubiquitous, even with the ghosts of communism wandering the Czech countryside. Unfortunately, there are a grand total of 200 electric cars in use in the entire country. And out of those 200, 23 are owned by CEZ AS.
Regardless of the consumer reach of McDonald’s, don’t expect an EV sunrise anytime soon.
The inaugural station in Prague can charge two cars at once, though, taking between two and six hours to fully charge the battery. To you 177 Czech electric vehicle owners out there looking to charge up at McDonald’s: go on an empty stomach.
Also, when visiting Prague, avoid pizza joints in Old Town just east of the Charles Bridge. Or don’t travel with hot-headed Greek friends.