It started when the owner of one electric Nissan Leaf at Boeing’s site in El Segundo left a note on the windshield of another electric Leaf. Before long, that grew into a small network of electric vehicle (EV) owners who began to rally support for an on-site electric vehicle charging station.
“Suddenly there were six or seven of us who thought we should get together and take steps to become more self-reliant and not have to worry about charging our cars at a different location,” explained Erik Daehler, senior manager at the Boeing satellite plant in Southern California.
Their efforts paid off when El Segundo was chosen as one of four Boeing locations included in a year-long pilot project of on-site charging stations for employee-owned electric vehicles.
Each station can charge up to four vehicles at a time, and a typical EV battery needs five to six hours to fully recharge. Daehler said the station is often full, but electric vehicle owners support each other. “One day you get an email that says, ‘Hey, I’m in a pinch and need to borrow one of the stations.’ Somebody runs out and moves their car for another owner to come in.”
Currently, Boeing has a small pilot project in four states — Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington — to assess employee interest in recharging their electric vehicles while at work. The recharging station in El Segundo is the most-used site in the pilot, which doesn’t surprise Daehler.
“I think it’s partly because the people who work in the satellite group in El Segundo tend to embrace technology and be early adopters. Our commute also is perfectly suited for an EV, which can drive up to 60 miles on a full charge,” he said.
The electric vehicle owners also believe the charging stations are important signs of Boeing’s commitment to the environment and to be a technology leader. “Other high-tech companies like Google encourage their employees to drive EVs. It’s important for Boeing to be seen as a forward-leaning technology company,” said Leo Chan, system test engineer and an EV owner.