Feature Story

Cisco workers charged up over electric vehicle program

by Liza Meak

EV program a big hit on Cisco campuses

Nearly 3,000 employees have registered their cars since Cisco launched its electronic vehicle charging program in 2011.

On any given day, hundreds of electric and hybrid vehicles fill parking lots and garages at Cisco campuses all over the world. David Schraitle drives one of those cars. When the software developer interviewed for his job about a year and a half ago, he noticed the charging stations in the parking lot. "I never confirmed with anyone I'd be able to charge my car, I just went ahead and got the car and I had it on my first day," said Schraitle.

I didn't take him long to get his car registered and he's now among nearly 3,000 Cisco employees who signed up for the company's electric vehicle charging program. "Electrical Vehicle charging aligns with our goal to embed sustainability practices into Cisco's business and workplace, as well as the commitment to 'Our People Deal' to improve productivity and contribute to an improved work-life balance for our employees," said Michelle Chiba, a Cisco workplace resources manager.

See also: Cisco 2016 CSR report

With 321 charging stations on Cisco's San Jose campus alone, employees and customers have good reason to drive an electric vehicle beyond reducing their own carbon footprint. Not only can they charge their car while they work, they get to do it for free. 

See also: Electric vehicle charging sparks Cisco employees to reduce carbon footprint

It's a perk that benefits not just Cisco workers, but also gives a boost to the environment. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • Worldwide registered users: Nearly 3,000
  • Ports available worldwide: 350
  • Number of worldwide Cisco locations with charging stations: 18
  • Greenhouse gas emission savings in San Jose: 189,717 (kg) * source ChargePoint
  • Gallons of gas saved: 57,484
  • C02 saved in 2016: 700 metric tons

**Numbers from 2011 to March, 2017

With so many electric drivers, finding an open charging station can be challenging to say the least.  But at the San Jose campus and many other sites, Cisco uses ChargePoint, an electric vehicle charging network. It's really simple to use. When a driver arrives, they swipe their ChargePoint card to get in the waiting line, if all the spots are full. When their name comes up on the list, ChargePoint sends an alert via text and email, and the driver can either accept the spot, snooze it, or get off the waiting list.

When Schraitle first started using the program, the wait lit system wasn't yet in place, which made it a challenge to charge.  "Between 8:15 and 8:30 everything was full. You had to drive around during lunch to find a spot," said Schraitle. "Once the fast chargers and wait list came out, it started evening out."

See also: Electric vehicle charging journey continues

Cisco also uses what's called a Good Neighbor Policy. Before gaining access to the free charging stations, electric vehicle drivers need to register their cars and agree to certain rules and restrictions. The rules spell out the expectations, which basically entails being courteous to fellow EV drivers so everyone can get a charge, and not leave work with range anxiety. There's nothing more frustrating when you get the notification that you're next in line for a charging spot, only to find out someone is in your spot or you see a car that's fully charged still taking a coveted parking space.

With such a robust electric vehicle community at Cisco, many drivers use the company's internal website to communicate with other EV drivers and get their questions answered. It's a one stop online tool that allows drivers to report problems and simply get to know other co-workers who drive electric vehicles.

As Cisco moves into its sixth year of the EV charging program, it's continually looking to fine tune and upgrade. "Enthusiasm for EVs has become contagious as more and more employees purchase them," said Cori Brown, who oversees the day to day electric vehicle charging program.  Cisco's workplace transportation team plans to add charging stations in Raleigh offices and just last year added 15 fast chargers in San Jose, which can charge a car in 15 to 20 minutes. That's the most of any company in the Bay Area.  



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