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This is the Kodak Moment for the Auto Industry

Plug-In Drivers Not Missin' the Piston Electric vehicles are here to stay. Their market acceptance is currently small but growing...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why Do You Love your Hybrid or Electric Car? - The Equation

Why Do You Love your Hybrid or Electric Car? - The Equation: "MIT analysis looking at every major part of a car shows that making and disposing a conventional gasoline vehicle produces as much global warming pollution as driving for one year (Table 3). Electric cars boost that by about a half a year, but can save about ten times as much or more."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Cars That Celebrate the Socket - NYTimes.com

New Cars That Celebrate the Socket - NYTimes.com: "Americans bought 19,874 plug-in cars in 2011, according to LMC Automotive. But the research firm expects the number to surge to roughly 70,000 this year, to nearly 170,000 in 2013 and to a healthy 250,000 by 2015, representing a significant 1.5 percent of a 16.5 million vehicle market."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Retailers Plug-in to EV Infrastructure

"Charging at an outlet mall" now means more than using your credit card. Shopping malls and retail centers across the country are installing charging stations for plug-in cars. Retailers nationwide are hoping that these charging stations will draw upscale customers into their store to browse while the cars are juicing up.

An early leader in this movement is drugstore chain Walgreens, which is installing chargers at nearly 800 stores nationwide. Kohl's is undertaking a pilot program to equip 33 stores with charging stations. Ikea is installing charging stations and solar panels starting on the west coast of the US. Best Buy said they will test charging stations at 12 locations. Macy's is installing chargers at a handful of department stores. Kroger retailer, Fred Meyer, is installing stations in several Oregon locations.

Retailers view charging stations as a way to one-up competitors and garner a green image. Many retail chains are hoping to win goodwill with eco-conscious, high-income customers by offering a visible amenity.

The general rule of thumb is that one public charging station is needed for every four plug-in cars on the road. This is in addition to the home charging stations for these vehicles. Currently there are about 5,000 public chargers scattered around the country. This is inline with the nearly 20,000 Leafs and Volts that have been sold to-date since their deliveries started in December of 2011.

There are likely to be more than 50 thousand plug-in vehicles sold in the US in 2012 and the US government has a goal to have 1 million vehicles on the road by 2015. Following this rule of thumb would mean a need for 250 thousand public charging stations.

Woodburn Outlet Mall in Woodburn Oregon
Retailers are moving quickly to fill this void. Currently, most are providing electricity for free. Menno Enters, Walgreens' director of energy and sustainability, said "[At Walgreens] we said, 'Let's lead in this area.' We're all about convenience, and many of our stores are located around commuter routes. We realized that Walgreens was ideally situated to implement a strategy for electric chargers." If the electric car movement takes off, Walgreens is hoping to snatch sales from nearby gas stations that "seek the same convenience-type customers," Enters said.

The Swedish retailer, Ikea, doesn't track how often the stations are used, but the chargers have been conversation pieces, said Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth. "You can just stand and watch folks driving by in the parking lot. They see the space and you can kind of see that 'oh wow, that's kind of neat' look on their faces," Roth said. "We view it as another aspect of the shopping experience."

Retailers usually get most of the costs covered with subsidies by partnering with a handful of companies such as ECOtality and Coulomb Technologies that specialize in installing and supporting charging stations. These companies have in turn received money from a combination of private funds and the Department of Energy to build up an infrastructure that encourages increased use of electric vehicles.

Technology company 350Green installs and manages charging stations, said it gets about 95% of its business from retailers. Some retailers split the cost with 350Green while others get much of the cost covered by federal subsidies, said Mariana Gerzanych, 350Green's chief executive. Clients include Walgreens and Simon Properties Group, a real estate company and mall operator. Gerzanych said the economy has made more retailers interested in charging stations. "It's a very competitive environment for retailers, and they don't want to take the wait-and-see approach," she said. "Retailers have been taking a very proactive approach to attract customers."

Via the LA Times with my edits, corrections, and additions.

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