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article imageCharging stations increase in U.S. as electric car sales struggle

By R. Francis Rubio     Mar 27, 2012 in Business
More companies are increasingly investing in charging stations for pure-electric and hybrid vehicles across the country getting in on the ground floor and scooping up the best sites.
With fewer than 15,000 pure-electric cars on U.S. roads today along with so far lackluster sales on hybrid vehicles, investors and business owner alike seem to be looking towards the future with optimism when it comes to an electric vehicle infrastructure.
In a press release on Business Wire Friday, NRG Energy announced a $100 million, four year agreement with California Public Utilities Commission to begin building a state-wide comprehensive network of electric vehicle charging stations.
The plan calls for a minimum of 10,000 individual charging stations to be installed at individual homes, offices, multifamily communities, schools and hospitals, along with approximately 200 public fast-charging stations installed in San Diego county, San Francisco Bay area and the Los Angeles Basin, adding vehicles up to 50 miles of range in less than 15 minutes of charge.
Chief Executive Officer, David Crane of NRG said in the press release “With this agreement, the people of California will gain a charging infrastructure ready to support their current and future fleet of electric vehicles," adding "and we will be helping the State meet its clean car goals as embodied by its Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate.”
Meanwhile elsewhere across the United States, The Wall Street Journal reports that many other companies are getting into the act.
Car Charging Group Inc. based out of Miami is beginning to assemble their own nationwide network of charging facilities with plans to install stations in retail-store lots and parking garages around the country.
The Miami based company wants to strike fast in hopes to lock up prime locations while the pickings are still ripe.
"The business that we're in today is a land grab," says CEO Michael Farkas
Other companies such as Walgreen's and Cracker Barrel are also jumping on the bandwagon. Walgreen's already has stations at four of its Texas stores with plans to install even more in San Francisco, Orlando, FL and Washington D.C. and Cracker Barrel is expecting to upgrade some of its Tennessee restaurants within months.
Also, it's not just the big boys trying to catch the worm. The WSJ interviewed a McDonald's franchisee owner by the name of Tom Wolf. Mr. Wolf recently installed two chargers at his newest restaurant in Huntington, W. Virginia.
Wolf spent $6,385 on the chargers and so far they have seen little use but the restaurant owner remains optimistic saying, "it's for the future."
The price of chargers vary dramatically according to your needs. A "fast" charge 480-volt charger is the most expensive costing around $40,000 plus installation but can fully recharge a vehicle within 30 minutes. The 240-volt chargers run between $2,000 and $3,000 plus installation depending on the manufacturer and will charge you battery in approximately 8 hours.
Home chargers which most likely will be an electric-car owners main over-night hub can run today around $700 to $1,000 plus installation but chances are when more are purchased and the technology gets better the price will gradually come down.
More about Electric cars, Electric vehicle, Charging station, California, Greenhouse gases
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