A new kind of ‘fuel’ station at restaurants and movie theaters

Electric car charging station Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Electric car charging station Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Two years ago, it was difficult to find an electric car charging station in Dallas. These days, they’re all over the place.

Some of the more common are Blink charging stations, installed by parent company Ecotality. The company has installed more than 350 chargers in DFW in a little over two years, says area sales manager Dave Aasheim.

“We try to find locations where people are going to park their cars for an hour, maybe two hours,” Aasheim says. “We’re not putting them in places like gas stations. We’re putting them in places where you want to be.”

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Shopping centers, libraries and parks are some of the spots Ecotality has chosen. The company began seeking out locations in 2009 when it was awarded a $99.8 million EV Project grant from the Department of Energy to help build the charging station infrastructure.

“Most people are going to get a majority of their charge at home, but [charging stations] give them some range,” Aasheim says. “Every hour you’re plugged in puts about 12 to 15 miles of range back onto your battery.”

Blink station customers spend $1-$2 per hour to charge their cars.

The Blink station in the Bishop Arts District parking lot near Oddfellows was Ecotality’s third in Dallas, installed in July 2011.

Another station is a few blocks down Davis at Bolsa Mercado.

“That’s what we call the ‘cluster effect,’” Aasheim says. “Usually people see them somewhere and say, how can I get one?”

After the Bishop Arts District installation, Aasheim says, “the guys from Bolsa call and say, ‘We’re a farm to fork restaurant. We’d love to sponsor a location as well.’ ”

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Bolsa co-owner Chris Zielke says the Blink station was installed around the time Bolsa Mercado opened. It was added for environmental reasons, to cater to Oak Cliff residents. Zielke says Bolsa Mercado has roughly 10 regulars who use the stations.

Ecotality is collecting data on its Blink chargers to find out which chargers are used most. Right now, it appears that restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores and similar “destination locations” are most popular, Aasheim says.

Additional reporting by Victoria Hilbert

 

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