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The race to provide charging stations for electric vehicles heats up on the West Coast after...

The race to provide charging stations for electric vehicles heats up on the West Coast after Kroger (KR) joins Walgreen (WAG), Whole Foods (WFM), and IKEA to provide customers parking lot charging stations. What to watch: Retailers continue to slowly edge into the field in an effort not to get left behind, but until a major restaurant chain (say McDonald's (MCD)?) jumps in with a partnership to offer a national network of charging stations along major interstates the phenomenon will remain a  primarily limited to affluent urban areas.
Comments (26)
  • al roman
    , contributor
    Comments (4165) | Send Message
     
    Let's Just Do It !! USA # 1 .
    9 Apr 2013, 08:56 AM Reply Like
  • wigit5
    , contributor
    Comments (3851) | Send Message
     
    I'm not sure it would be good for McDonalds to put charging stations in.... MCD's thrives off high volume foot traffic fast food... if you have people sitting at tables waiting for their EV's to charge it will look more crowded then it should and may actually drive potential customers to a less 'crowded' eatery.

     

    MCD's would probably prefer that people buy food eat quickly and leave.

     

    On the flip side maybe it will drive people to buy even more food then they would normally while they sit at the table... all though I think that is less likely then the previous scenario.
    9 Apr 2013, 09:12 AM Reply Like
  • kmi
    , contributor
    Comments (3967) | Send Message
     
    In my area there are usually parents hanging out with their kids at the McD play areas. I suspect they spend quite some time there. I also suspect McD invests in the play areas for a reason, so I'm not sure that McD doesn't want to encourage people hanging out.

     

    Also, fast-chargers these days give a nice boost within 15-30min, which is less than a lunch hour, so that's something to consider too.
    9 Apr 2013, 09:41 AM Reply Like
  • wigit5
    , contributor
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    good point, but I don't think it's an exact apples to apples comparison...

     

    and I briefly looked for statistics on how many mcds have those play areas but couldn't find a number however I have seen at least 5-10 new or remodeled mcd's without the play stations so there must be some research into the area that they get built in.

     

    As for the fast chargers if you are just bumping around town the 15-30 minute charge is probably useful so to that effect I agree.

     

    I just can't count how many times I have decided to eat elsewhere rather than deal with a crowded eatery when I'm out and about and that is largely based on how many cars I see in the lot.

     

    thanks for the counter point kmi!
    9 Apr 2013, 10:16 AM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (3288) | Send Message
     
    Need to understand that placing an EV charger near the entrance of ANY store can bring in more customers looking to "top off" during chores. EVs come with navigation systems (along with smart phone apps) which show nearby public charging stations. It becomes almost like an advertisement to attract customers. And McDonalds would LOVE to have you stick around a few extra minutes - long enough to sell you an ice cream dessert to top off your meal as well as the car.

     

    Most of these EV chargers can add another half-mile or more of range for every minute it is plugged in, at least initially and as long as the battery stays cool. That 20 minute stop for refreshments at McDonalds can top it off for another 10-20 miles of range, enough to get to the next stop on the list of chores for the day.

     

    Charging EVs are a lifestyle change, a true game-changer to mix the hyperboles if you will, and EV folks will quickly figure out where they want to shop and hang out, making a quick pit-stop at an EV charger to top off or extend the range of the battery while they chill out.
    9 Apr 2013, 10:27 AM Reply Like
  • Jim W
    , contributor
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    I would buy an electric if I could simply charge it directly from solar panels. I don`t want an elaborate array on the house or yard yet but just enough to charge the car and nothing else.
    9 Apr 2013, 09:15 AM Reply Like
  • wigit5
    , contributor
    Comments (3851) | Send Message
     
    getting panels on the house is still to expensive it would cost me 45k to get one that would cover my electric bill fully... which even if I stayed in the house for 8-10 years might not fully pay itself off

     

    I was really surprised given all the talk about how 'cheap' solar is now
    9 Apr 2013, 09:26 AM Reply Like
  • kmi
    , contributor
    Comments (3967) | Send Message
     
    Solar is falling in price every day, have you talked to (SCTY) people lately? Or bought the stock....

     

    Their prices are great in all the different system purchase styles they offer.
    9 Apr 2013, 09:43 AM Reply Like
  • wigit5
    , contributor
    Comments (3851) | Send Message
     
    I got quotes from 3 solar contractors in my area and all of them were in the 40k+ range... I'm not sure if the labor is just completely over priced or where they get there supplies from... I live in north east tennessee so not exactly the most built up area so infrastructure / lack of large demand could be keeping the costs high here.

     

    I'm not a big fan of solar stocks just yet so I haven't bought any but I'll go check out their site and see what they have to offer.
    9 Apr 2013, 10:18 AM Reply Like
  • kmi
    , contributor
    Comments (3967) | Send Message
     
    SolarCity (SCTY) is operating out of Home Depot these days I believe.

     

    There's a huge problem in solar right now because it is very niche/boutique and I believe an entity with SolarCity's business model is establishing a tremendous competitive advantage.

     

    I am considering (SUNS) too, which is a BDC focused on solar. I think in a weak economy where people and entities are trying to drop their costs, solar has real attraction, and prices have come down quite a bit.
    9 Apr 2013, 10:25 AM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (3288) | Send Message
     
    Jimbo - That Solar Array would need to generate some 6 kW of power - some 25 amps at 240V - to effectively charge the vehicle. Do you want to "do the math" on the size of the solar grid?

     

    Hint: Net solar radiation available is about 1000 watts per square meter on the surface of the earth, and solar cells are about 33% efficient, give or take a few.

     

    Also the cost is about a buck per watt.
    9 Apr 2013, 10:39 AM Reply Like
  • Raymondalpha
    , contributor
    Comments (76) | Send Message
     
    Adding charging station in parking lots is a good but not a perfect idea. The specific parking space should not be close to the business so a non-EV vehicle will try to park there unless every other space is occupied. Second, the EV owner must ask to activate the charger remotely when visiting the business and consuming their services to prevent the use by a non-visiting EV owner. Finally, the station must have a means to detect when the EV owner disconnect the charger and deactivate the charger until the next EV owner visits the business and ask for a charge. The cost of each charge will be covered by the sales (maybe two to three dollars per hour).
    9 Apr 2013, 09:28 AM Reply Like
  • kmi
    , contributor
    Comments (3967) | Send Message
     
    These issues are for the most part already addressed in the chargers. "Pay-for-use" exists too.
    9 Apr 2013, 09:44 AM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (3288) | Send Message
     
    Ray - Lots of "public" chargers are free - you only need to have an EV and plug in to use the parking spot, which are marked as "EV Use Only" or similar. Parking meter maids (do they still have those?) treat EV parking spaces with the same interest as the handicap spots.

     

    Some public charging starions have a fee - and use a credit card or charging membership card swipe, just like at a gasoline pump, to be billed back to the clustomer.

     

    I've never seen or heard of such a convoluted charging station procedure thing as you describe. These EV chargers are very smart and fully automated - they communicate with the vehicle to supply the specific charging requested, and they start and stop themselves automatically when plugging in and unplugging.
    9 Apr 2013, 12:10 PM Reply Like
  • youngman442002
    , contributor
    Comments (5131) | Send Message
     
    why do they have to be free.....I think that is very stupid....
    9 Apr 2013, 09:31 AM Reply Like
  • marbak
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    How long will it take to chg the auto? And what is the distances for a full chg with the present autos on the road or soon to be on the road?
    9 Apr 2013, 09:41 AM Reply Like
  • Randal James
    , contributor
    Comments (2158) | Send Message
     
    Just for clarification, there is a Fred Meyer (Kroger jumbo store) in Redmond, WA that has a bank of about 4 charging stations. They are clearly marked and are treated like handicapped areas - in other words, you are only supposed to be there if you are charging an electric car. It has a place to swipe a credit/debit card, probably before each use.

     

    There are EVs around here though none were being reloaded on the day I noticed the station. Electricity is generally cheap in the NW so I presume they were competitively priced but it surely didn't have the familiar $4.09/$4.19/$4.32 signage we've seen for decades.

     

    That particular shopping area also has a large Target, Kohl's, & Home Depot.
    9 Apr 2013, 10:06 AM Reply Like
  • cameo49
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    slightly off topic- how about starting with charging stations for power wheelchair and other mobility devices by some types of retailers or public facilities?

     

    I have seen people who are "stalled" very close to their home because the battery didn't have quite enough left. It would seem to me to reduce the "range anxiety" and at least double the effective radius of access to users of these devices. In fact even just one recharge station could allow people to recharge on the way out and on the way back
    9 Apr 2013, 10:06 AM Reply Like
  • kmi
    , contributor
    Comments (3967) | Send Message
     
    I believe electric bicycles are on the verge of becoming very popular in overseas because of the stickiness of oil prices, new developments in battery/motor technology, and falling prices.

     

    They don't make a lot of sense in the sprawl of the US but they make tremendous sense in places more congested with high energy prices.

     

    I suspect, to your point, that chargers for non-automotive products may start popping up if this trend develops more, but then again, many of these bicycles have pretty decent ranges for the markets I think they are compatible.
    9 Apr 2013, 10:29 AM Reply Like
  • TwistTie
    , contributor
    Comments (2477) | Send Message
     
    I would be happy with a good selection of lamb cuts.

     

    Loin chops are my favorite.

     

    I like to rub mine with garlic and rosemary, grill medium-rare on an open hibachi, and enjoy with an upscale Merlot.

     

    I'm drooling now.

     

    Why did you bring this up?
    9 Apr 2013, 11:19 AM Reply Like
  • baseballman24
    , contributor
    Comments (299) | Send Message
     
    We should switch over to Natty Gas, but we greed corruption will get in the way.
    9 Apr 2013, 11:56 AM Reply Like
  • Govteduc
    , contributor
    Comments (5) | Send Message
     
    How many people own electric cars? I know that the people who believe in global warming think this is a good idea, but global warming is a fraud.
    9 Apr 2013, 01:32 PM Reply Like
  • kmi
    , contributor
    Comments (3967) | Send Message
     
    Electric cars are not about global warming.
    9 Apr 2013, 03:07 PM Reply Like
  • User 8255151
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    First, the grid could only support 3 to 4 % of a switch to electric vehicles overall. A mixture of plug-in hybrids and electric cars makes sense. These retailers have to look at on-site generation to off-set the strain on the grid...minigrids using microturbines or fuel cell generation on-site, DG.
    9 Apr 2013, 01:32 PM Reply Like
  • kmi
    , contributor
    Comments (3967) | Send Message
     
    Actually, EVs are supportive of the grid. EVs can be used as 'capacitors' to smooth out the production/consumption dynamics of generation, reducing the need to fire up more expensive 'peak' generation capacity in times of demand in favor of base load generators with plugged in EV batteries covering spikes in demand.

     

    "On site" generation from non-renewable sources is just as subject to the vagaries of supply-demand and source disruption as utility generation is, for the most part.
    9 Apr 2013, 03:10 PM Reply Like
  • Randal James
    , contributor
    Comments (2158) | Send Message
     
    New law being passed through State of Washington legislature that would set penalties for conventional vehicles parking in spaces reserved for charging stations or for those with EVs who are parked there but not using the space for recharging. Will carry much the same penalties as parking in handicapped spaces.
    14 Apr 2013, 11:32 AM Reply Like
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