Twelve Best Buy stores will plug in Ecototality charging stations for electric vehicles, part of an effort to build out the fueling infrastructure for electric cars in the U.S.
Ecotality said today that its Blink EV charging stations will be installed by March at stores in Tucson, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle. Based on data gathered at those locations, the companies will consider installing more charging stations in other regions.
With electric vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, now coming onto the roads, the auto industry and governments are seeking to ensure that drivers have a good experience with fueling their cars.
It's expected that drivers will charge most frequently at home, either with a standard household outlet or a faster 240-volt charger. But having public charging stations is considered important to making EVs more viable and to ease drivers' concerns over driving range.
Best Buy's plan to host charging stations is part of the EV Project, in which Ecotality and other organizations are installing charging stations at homes and in public places in 16 regions in the U.S.
Best Buy is also seeking to sell electric transportation products at its stores, including bicycles, scooters, and a motorcycle.
The Blink charging station works at 240 volts, has a touch-screen display, and connects to the Internet to give drivers statistics, such as charge status and driving history.
Ecotality estimates that it takes between two and six hours to fully charge an electric vehicle battery.
Because it's so early in electric vehicle adoption, it's unclear how much drivers will use public charging stations in retail outlets or parking lots. The Best Buy installation will be one of a number of trials in the U.S. to see how useful these public locations are and whether retailers can make money by investing in the charging stations.
Separately, Ecotality said today that it will show off its fast-charging station later this week at the Business of Plugging In conference in Detroit.
The Ecotality Blink DC fast chargers use direct current to provide a "safe and meaningful charge" in 15 minutes, according to the company. These fast-charging stations will be used in some locations of the EV Project, including Tennessee.