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Walgreens Aims to Lead the EV Infrastructure Charge

Company plans to open 800 electric-vehicle charging stations nationwide by end of year.

By Joshua Condon Jul 25, 2011 9:35AM
A charging station at Walgreens. (Photo from Walgreens, via Business Wire.)Walgreens is jumping on the EV bandwagon, announcing late last week that it intends to become the nation's largest host of public electric-vehicle charging stations.

About 60 chargers are already being built, in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago. Walgreens estimates that about 800 public chargers will be available nationwide by the end of the year and says that the roll-out will begin in the New York metropolitan area.

The drugstore chain will partner with companies such as 350Green, Car Charging Group and NRG Energy to build the 240-volt charging-station infrastructure, though Walgreens will own the chargers. Pricing will vary based on the cost of grid electricity in various locations and the infrastructure provider; 350Green, for example, will bill customers between $3 and $4 for a 90-minute connection.

[Source: Wheels.]

12Comments
Jul 25, 2011 1:34PM
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It's one thing to have a few natural gas stations for fleet vehicles, but a widespread network? There's a lot of concern for public safety there.

You mean like the natural gas system that delivers gas into.... oh, I don't know...say......... people's HOMES?
Jul 26, 2011 8:31AM
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The problem with charging stations at stores is simply that you don't spend enough time in the store, unless you're a teenager at the mall.  Ever charge your cell phone battery half way up a few times?  Doesn't last as long after that, does it?  That's the problem with batteries.  I don't think I want my $5,000 car battery getting destroyed by repeated partial charges.  Currently, EVs are only good for short trips, in town, unless your spending enough money to buy 5 VW diesels on a Tesla.  Battery technology needs to improve, first, for this to really work.

Jul 26, 2011 8:50AM
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The problem with charging stations at stores is simply that you don't spend enough time in the store,
KYSpeakerGeek, GOOD POINT!  I can't think of anything at Walgreen's that would make me stay 90 minutes.....unless it was waiting for them to fill a simple prescription.....and then I'd want to use the charger for free for making me wait so long.

Jul 25, 2011 8:23PM
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As long as you have to charge them for hours, electric cars will not be accepted in the mainstream market. I see one viable solution for electric drive to replace internal combustion. The solution is a battery exchange. First, we need a standard for batteries (such as how they are easily removed, their shape and how they connect). Second, you would have to lease the batteries, since switching out your battery puts battery replacement costs into the hands of others (this cost could be easily included in the vehicle sale price). Third, gas stations would have to adopt the solution and install machines that would safely remove dead batteries and replace them with charged ones. It would be even better if these batteries were charged using solar or wind power.
Jul 26, 2011 9:19AM
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Keep in mind though, that you don't have to wait for a full charge.  Anything you get while in the store (even if it's only 15 minutes) will still add to your overall range. 

 

They might charge you money for charging at first, but think about this.  If competing stores offer charging stations, one of them will eventually offer free charging as a way to sway customers to their store.  Eventually everyone will offer free charging, at least for people who make purchases.  Basically, when you pay for your items, they will probably validate your charging station, and off you go.

Jul 28, 2011 4:53AM
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 then it will most likely have Ni-Cd

The Leaf and Volt (the only current plug in vehicles) both use lithium-ion batteries which don't suffer from the issues you mentioned below.  Partial charges have little to no effect.  I partial-charge my cell phone (also lithium-ion) every day with no negative effect, and it's seven years old.  Besides, the batteries are guaranteed for eight years.

 

The problems you are talking about only apply to NiMh or NiCd batteries which are becoming rare.  And the problems don't matter because these batteries are not in vehicles that need to be plugged in.  By the time that charging stations are commonplace, these types of batteries will be extinct.

Jul 29, 2011 4:45AM
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One thing we know for sure, this is unproven technology.  Nissan and GM both made higher mileage claims between charges on the Leaf and Volt than people have been able to achieve in the real world.  We also don't have any long-term data on battery life other than what the manufacturers are spoon feeding us. 

 

All I know is I can avoid all the risk by sticking with a proven internal combustion engine and spend less money doing so.  Not mention never having to sweat what my driving range is going to be.  400-500 miles out of a tank full of gas that can be refilled in 5 minutes versus a maybe if you're lucky 75-100 range with a recharge that takes several hours to complete.  What a hassle.

Jul 29, 2011 4:45AM
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The Leaf is essentially a $30k Versa.  If somebody is going to build a cheap EV, it will have to use Ni-Cd.

The price of Lithium-ion has come way down.  Two years ago, the only plug-in cost $109k.  Now there is one on the market for $30k.  Both cars use lithium-ion batteries. 

 

By the time that plug-in electrics become mainstream, the price will be low enough that lithium-ion will either be the only type of battery or in the process of being replaced by something better.

 

You will NEVER see a Ni-Cd battery in a plug in electric.  The technology is just too outdated.

Jul 28, 2011 7:50PM
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The Leaf and the Volt are also relatively expensive.  The Leaf is essentially a $30k Versa.  If somebody is going to build a cheap EV, it will have to use Ni-Cd.
Jul 27, 2011 7:38PM
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random, those partial charges destroy your battery.  Try charging your cell phone halfway up three times and see how long the battery lasts after that.  Keep in mind that most phones have li-ion batteries, which are pretty much the best consumer battery technology.  Ni-Cd are even worse and if an electric car is to be economical, then it will most likely have Ni-Cd.  Sure, it's enough to get you home in a pinch, but who wants to be in a pinch where they have to wait for your car battery to recharge?  How often do you run out of gas?  Not often.  Why?  You can stop and get more, instantly when you get low.  I know, this is obvious, but it's the root of the problem.

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