Op-Ed: Whole Foods offers free power to electric cars, for now

Posted Apr 13, 2010 by Lynn Herrmann
Austin-based Whole Foods has entered into the energy distribution business with an ingenious plan: targeting the central Texas electric car market.
Reusable bags: A large number of Americans do not wash their totes regularly
Reusable bags: A large number of Americans do not wash their totes regularly
File photo
In a move designed to intensify traffic congestion at the already insanely congested 5th and 6th street/Lamar street intersections, Whole Foods announced on Monday it will offer electric vehicle charging stations, for free. For now. It hopes the free offering will increase the shopping sensation of an already sensational(ized) shopping experience.
One could argue the move is designed to counter sagging sales the organic grocery chain experienced during fiscal year 2009, but only if wishing to enter the head-against-a-rock-wall arena.
The new charging station, offered as a drive up and plug in design feature, is the first charging station installed at a Whole Foods store, with more planned for other locations.
"Electric vehicles are exploding right now, and in several years, there are going to be thousands - if not tens of thousands - of them," said Whole Foods Regional President Mark Dixon in a report on KXAN. "And, I think that one of the big issues right now is that there is not an adequate number of charging stations," he added.
For now, the supermarket is generously offering the electricity freely. It is, however, a lead-in to July’s required charging pass drivers will be required to purchase in order to manage their online accounts.
Austin Energy expects upwards of 190,000 electric cars on central Texas roads within the next decade. No doubt closely related to the clean coal propaganda being distributed, its website states the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle will “save fuel costs for consumers and businesses; reduce air pollution; and decrease dependence on imported oil.”
"Right now we sell our electricity at ordinary commercial rates to Whole Foods and others who use it. There may be some mark-up of course,” states Karl Rabago of Austin Energy. While “some mark-up” is generally associated with Whole Foods, there is, at this point, no exact data available as to what that mark-up will be.
Based on the store’s current price point strategies, as some suggest, it’s re-sell price for electricity won’t be cheap.
On a final note, while some within the “Keep Austin Weird” movement no doubt will see this free changing station as a welcome addition to their self-professed laid-back lifestyle, their actions will only validate the platform created by those within the “Keep Austin Reading” movement.