Electric car fast charging infrastructure is expanding in Tennessee and Arizona thanks to a deal announced on Tuesday by ECOtality and Sears. The two companies are teaming up to add Blink network DC Fast Charge stations at several Sears stores in those states.
"Our relationship with Sears will benefit businesses and communities alike," said Ravi Brar, CEO of ECOtality. "By continuing to install Blink charging stations at new locations, Sears shows its commitment to clean energy with the added benefit of attracting an upscale and loyal consumer that research shows spends more time in store than the average customer. We are delighted to work with such an iconic brand."
The companies worked together on site selection taking into account the number of EV's in an area, store traffic, and existence of current DC Fast Charge stations. Five such stations have been installed currently, with more planned for the future. Additionally level 2 charging stations have been installed at 12 Sears locations.
The CHAdeMO compatible DC Fast Charge stations offer dual ports which will either allow for sequential charging of two electric cars, or to support the SAE DC Fast Charging standard when compatible cars start entering the market. Up until now the only available electric cars supporting DC Fast Charge are the CHAdeMO-compatible Nissan Leaf's and Mitsubishi i-MiEV's. However the auto industry chose to standardize on a different DC Fast Charge system, one designed by the SAE.
While no electric cars currently on the market support the SAE DC Fast Charge system, the Chevy Spark EV that is due to go on sale later in 2013 will do so.
Deploying fast charging stations that are primarily compatible with the Nissan Leaf in Arizona may look odd to the Leaf owners in that state. Most Arizona Leaf owners are experiencing premature battery pack capacity loss, and loss of driving range, due to the famous Arizona heat. Quick charging is also thought to exacerbate capacity loss, and the combination of heat with fast charging makes some Leaf owners nervous. Nissan has given contradictory advice over fast charging, with Andy Palmer saying at most one quick charge per day, and Mark Perry saying frequent fast charging is fine. While Arizona Leaf owners may appreciate the new quick charging stations, they may find it a mixed blessing.
The charging stations run at a 60 kilowatt charge rate, have two interactive touch screens, and a 42 inch color display allowing for media and advertising opportunities. The last feature should help defray the cost of the stations, because the location (just outside a Sears store) will make an excellent place to display advertising messages.
"Sears Holdings is proud to do our part in driving clean energy and we look forward to continuing our work with ECOtality," said Rajan Penkar, Senior Vice President and President, Supply Chain, for Sears Holdings. "We are delighted to see that the EV Charging stations are already offering a valuable service to our customers, communities and associates, and we are excited to see how many hours charging we can achieve in 2013."