By on February 14, 2013

Tim Horton’s, the Canadian coffee chain that’s home to the legendary “double-double”(the local slang for two cream, two sugar in one’s coffee), has announced a pilot project to install EV charging stations in the parking lots of its coffee shops.

A store in Oakville, a western suburb of Toronto, will be the first to get a charging station. Oakville is home to Ford’s Canadian headquarters, so no surprise that the C-Max was photographed getting a charge at the store. Tim Horton’s says that negotiations are already underway to expand the program, which will provide charging facilities free of charge to owners of EVs and plug-in hybrids. Who knows, maybe this will offset the reduced range that’s certain to be brought on by cold, Canadian winters.

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47 Comments on “Tim Horton’s Installs Charging Stations: EVs May Now Be Viable In Canada...”

  • avatar

    This really would be pretty cool if it worked out.

    I’m wondering how this could pencil out financially for the chain – if they sell mainly coffee, they’re not getting enough revenues to pay for someone’s free charge, no?

    I wonder how much power is on offer. Maybe if it takes long enough for you to run through four coffees, it could be a moneymaker?

    On the other hand, I am reminded by the name of the utility that hydropower is a major source of energy in Canada, making power dirt cheap. That might be a factor here.


    • 0 avatar

      I’ll let some of the resident Canadians elaborate, but my understanding (from a friend of mine who went to school in Ontario) is that the Canadian devotion to Tim Horton’s makes the fanatical love New Englanders have for Dunkin’ Donuts look like a casual fling.

      • 0 avatar

        @NulloModo…Lets put it this way. If there was two coffee shops on the same block,and somebody was to open a Timmys,the other guys would fold over night.

        Its been rumoured they cut it with coke.

      • 0 avatar

        Based on what I saw on my first drive around the great white north (Chicago to Quebec City) there are as many Tim Horton’s around as there are Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts in my area. Tim Horton’s are much more open and cleaner inside, though. Plus in Quebec most of the staff was okay with English, which wasn’t the case with machines and people at most gas stations.

      • 0 avatar
        Felix Hoenikker

        Dunkin Donuts has invaded PA big time. But, as others have said about Tim Horton’s, most of the customers use the drive up window while they burn copious amounts of gas idling thier full sized pick ups waiting for thier turn to buy a box of “fat pills” before they head over to the cardiologist’s for an office visit. Not the ideal place for a charging station.
        In contrast, Starbuck’s customers seem to hang out there while they drink their Lattes, etc. Starbuck’s would be a much better location for charging stations.
        I avoid DD like the probverbial plague in an effort to keep arteriosclerosis in check.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        I know just as many Starbucks junkies as devotees of Tim’s. The difference is just that Tim Horton’s does cheap and cheerful fairly well. That said, quality has been on a decline since forever and it’s nowhere near as good as it used to be. Also, the competition upped their coffee quality, so they no longer have it their own way. There is an infinite number of their stores though…

      • 0 avatar

        When we visited Ontario in the summer of 2011, I got the impression that Tim Horton’s also sells a fair amount of food (and not just pastries or donuts) in addition to the coffee.

        The chain isn’t quite comparable to either Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts in the United States.

        It is more like a combination of Dunkin’ Donuts and a better-quality fast food place.

      • 0 avatar

        I am not a Canadian but I’ve been living in Nova Scotia for the past three years. Tim Horton is a religion…an extremist religion. As for electric cars…not too popular in NS, but VW TDIs are everywhere you look. Charging stations in NS will not materialize.

    • 0 avatar

      The cost of the energy is easily offset by coffee profits.

      That’s a Level 2 charger shown in the image. This means it can deliver about 7 kW. So for a 30-minute stop, it costs Tim’s about $0.35 (using the costs given by th009 below).

      An outdoor charger will cost $4-6k to install. My indoor charger was $750, and I installed it myself. My local hospital just paid an astronomical $6k for their chargers.

      The problem is that 7kW for 30 minutes will only give you a few miles of range – like 4.

      • 0 avatar
        James Courteau

        7 kw for 30 min is 3.5 KwH. Assuming 5 miles to a kilowatt, thats 17 and a half miles, buddy. The Leaf has a wimpy on-board charger, thats an unrelated problem.

      • 0 avatar

        @James Courteau:

        You’re mixing units … and I mistakenly slipped into calculating for a Level 1 charger rather than a Level 2.

        My Leaf will charge at about 18 miles per hour with a Level 2 charger, so half an hour of that would be about 9 miles.

      • 0 avatar
        James Courteau

        @gslippy, you’re right, I should have said 5 miles per kilowatt-hour. This conversation is a tongue twister. Still, a car with a 6.6kw or higher charger could pack the juice in pretty well while you sip a cup of coffee. The Leaf is 3.3kw IIRC.

        I think 3.3kw is pretty darn quick, but the electric car I used to have only had a 1.1kw charger. Talk about slow!

        On the flip side, a friend of mine is building a lithium hotrod with a 12 kilowatt charger. It will be able to charge at 70 miles per hour! (from 240 VAC. 208 VAC drops it to 62 miles per hour charging)

    • 0 avatar

      Who said anything about free? I’m sure the pilot will be, but electricity is expansive in Canada, and there’s money to be made off this handful of “early adopters”.

    • 0 avatar

      In Ontario, daytime domestic electricity costs a little north of 21¢/kwH, including electricity (11.8¢/kwH), distribution service charge ($23.85/month), distribution volume charge (3.4¢/kwH), transmission network charge (0.7¢/kwH), transmission connection charge (0.5¢/kwH), rural rate protection charge (0.1¢/kwH), debt retirement charge (0.7¢/kwH), adjustment factor (8.5%), and HST (13%). It’s possible I missed something.

      Daytime generation is a little over half nuclear, a quarter hydroelectric, a sixth gas. Nighttime is around two-thirds nuclear and one-third hydroelectric.

  • avatar

    Dirt cheap Hydro Power? As compared to what. I live in Ontario in 1600 SQ FT one level house. Gas heat and,hot water. Modern energy saving appiances, no freezer,and there are just two of us living here.

    With AC on its about 130.00 a month. Non AC months 95.00. Is that considered cheap?

  • avatar

    Honestly, Tim Horton’s is probably a logical place to roll this out. They’re all over the place and always busy. My city of 140k people has close to 40 locations alone.

    The big issue is where are they going to put the chargers. Tim’s locations are usually busy and have been known to cause traffic issues with their long drive-thru lineups.

    I can’t see this being implemented in the Maritime provinces, though. I have seen exactly one Volt around here and the one person that bought a Leaf got a story written about him in the local paper.

    As for the price of power, it is not cheap here (starting at 0.12/kWh). $400/mo power bills are common with electric heat in the winter.

  • avatar

    Maybe this is a ploy to shorten the drive-through lineups. :)

    (For our non-Canadian friends, Tim Hortons drive-throughs are notorious for causing traffic grief. is a great example, although I chuckle to discover this isn’t the sign that I was seeking! The one I saw was on a trip to Fredericton, New Brunswick. So there are at least two!)

  • avatar

    I just can’t see this working out at Timmys. People want to get thier coffee and get out as fast as possible. As it is, the parking lots,and drive throughs are jammed 80 percent of the time.

    Because I’m a car guy,I’m always looking at what other people are driving. I think I’ve seen one Volt on the road,and I have yet to see a Leaf.

  • avatar

    Car charging? They also offer free wi-fi. Next up free massages and hot towels? We sure do get a lot for a buck and a half cup of joe.

  • avatar

    Chargers at Tim Hortons would be a great way to get me to save energy. I’d plug my car in, go inside for a few hours to wait for the charge, stay busy eating donuts, and within a few months, I’d be dead, consuming no energy whatsoever.

  • avatar

    A point that many forget–retailers want you to spend more time in their store because the longer you are there, the more you will buy. Giving the electricity away for free is minor: Suppose each customer who uses it pulls 4 kWh (that’s about 10 mi worth for a Leaf) during their stay, at $0.11/kWh, that’s only $0.44 of additional expense for the retailer, and it’s highly likely that if that customer buys one additional item, it will pay for itself. That leaves the installation costs, which could be covered by an advertising budget.

    • 0 avatar

      Also note that, here in the United States, convenience stores don’t make their money selling gasoline. The real profits are in the coffee, soft drinks, food and other items for sale in the store.

      The availability of gasoline gets people to stop and possibly buy more profitable items in the store.

  • avatar

    Maybe somebody would consider relaxing some of the state-level regulations that make reselling electricity a crime in most US locales? It sure would be a market opportunity to have something where you could meter the electrical and pay it on a monthly basis, because the small charges are not going to be worth the overhead of a credit card swipe, but you could smooth out the overhead with monthly billing, and then it becomes a co-located business like a vending machine or a red box. But, of course, an Edison affiliate would be angry about you reselling it.

  • avatar

    While Tim’s does a LOT of drive thru biz, it also has a large amount of sit down customers. Although I don’t frequent it that often, every time I go into one it always seems to be full, particularly with the older crowd, who I think treat it as the local hangout.
    Good place to pick up the local gossip and charge up the Prius.

    Elon Musk – are you listening?

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    A novel solution for all those unused parking spots outside Tim’s while everyone clogs up the drive thru.

    As a side note, at the two Tim’s locations I frequent, I usually get out of the car, walk inside to a lineup of usually 2 people and exit much quicker than the people in the drive thru.

    And anecdotally, I have only ever seen one Nissan Leaf use the drive thru at a Tim Hortons, so I hope Timmy’s did their research on this one.

    • 0 avatar

      “And anecdotally, I have only ever seen one Nissan Leaf use the drive thru at a Tim Hortons, so I hope Timmy’s did their research on this one.”

      That’s one more Leaf than I’ve ever seen, besides my own.

  • avatar

    I never see more than 1 or 2 cars in any Tim Horton’s parking lot at ANY of their locations in Michigan (and rarely see a vehicle in their drive-thru), yet they’ve popped up like daisies for the last 7 years or so.

    I don’t get it, apparently. I don’t get how they could be anything other than money-losing stores, let alone profitable ones.

    I’ve often speculated that they really sell contraband in the middle of the night (note to Tim Horton’s: This is not intended as a serious statement).

    • 0 avatar

      Tim’s does VERY well up here, I know a few franchise owners….the mark-up on a cup of coffee ensures that their profit margins are very healthy.
      I suspect that the electrical charging stations are a response, in part, to the flack that Tim’s has gotten in the Canadian press recently about their long drive thru lines causing vehicles to unnecessarily idle and the waste/pollution that causes not to mention the traffic/noise issues.

      However, I see this gimmick working better at Starbuck’s or some other high end coffee shop chain. If you frequent Tim Horton’s at all, you’ll find that the environmentally conscious hybrid/EV driver is not their core clientele! lol

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve been to several Tim Horton’s, in part to see what the fuss was about.

        I just don’t get it, I really don’t. It’s a donut shop with mediocre coffee. I can understand going there on occasion, but I have yet to figure out why it remains an institution in eastern Canada. (The Vancouverites do seem to prefer Starbucks.)

        • 0 avatar

          The hot chocolate is good and the tea is better than Starbucks. In the summer, the “Ice Capp” is a great way to take the edge off the stifling humidity in Toronto. The double chocolate donut is the best donut, hands down.

          I’m pretty sure the coffee is one part battery acid, two parts jet fuel.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with you that the coffee is mediocre, and I’ll add that their donuts are absolutely nothing special.

        Dunkin’ Donuts has much better coffee and their donuts are at least somewhat better (even if many of their stores are far less clean), though I’ve cut out sugar and caffeine from my diet for the most part in the last year and a half.

        Others claim Tim Horton’s locations near them, in other states and in Canada, are busy, and I’m not disputing this, but I rarely see more than two or three cars in the parking lot at any of the Tim Horton’s locations while driving past them in Michigan.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve visited Tim Horton’s a few times while in Canada, and Dunkin Donuts is what comes to mind. Canada, however, takes recycling more seriously than the U.S. When leaving Tim Horton’s, they had 4 or 5 waste bins to separate trash — I don’t remember what categories they were, just my first time confusion as to what goes where.

        An EV charger in the parking lot seems to fit their culture.

    • 0 avatar

      I loosely call MI home. After working in Oakville for a year, I have developed an addiction to Tim Hortons coffee coupled with their chocolate danish pastry. Mikey referenced that they cut their coffee with coke (above), and I believe him.

      I think it has something to do with the brutal winters, the convenience of their locations and a herd mentality. Same reasons for the burnt bean-chain, Starbucks.

      • 0 avatar

        Around these parts, you could have 2 Tim Hortons on the same block and they’d both print money for you.

        Decent coffee and menu, and locations everywhere make them the primary choice around here.

    • 0 avatar

      The Tim Horton in Bangor, Me is always empty as well. The only place where Timi’s would be wildly successful in USA would be on Florida’s West coast in the winter when for six months is full of Canadians. I talked to some franchise owners and they said they won’t open any there because 1. the profit will only be made in the winter and 2. it would be too far for their supplier to bring supplies.

  • avatar

    Ford needs to offer a police version of the Fusion Energi. It would be a perfect match!

  • avatar

    The problem is that 7kW for 30 minutes will only give you a few miles of range – like 4.

    thats what i was going to say, 4 miles or km is not going to help u a very great deal.
    most blokes probably charged up the batt from home, so an extra 30 mins of charge is not going to really change the scenario a great deal.
    as i used to live in the great white northern bc, if a TH offers charge on the way it may help, but one ca’nt be hanging out at Tims forever unless u’re member of the gendarme.
    so these charging stn are just cosmetic or window dressing, similar to offer u a piece of lemon meringue pie when u’re super hungry!

  • avatar

    There are a thousand times more ebikes and disability scooters needing a charge than electric cars. I hope this includes a level 1 charger. Plus the ebikes and scooters only need pennies worth of electricity to charge.

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