Half Price Books installs N. Texas' first electric car charging station
4:53 PM Mon, Sep 20, 2010
As the cars roll in to Texas later this year, drivers will be able to juice up their electric vehicles at the bookstore's flagship location on Northwest Highway for free.
The charger is relatively slow, and some cars will take hours to get a full charge. So the idea is to change consumer thinking about refueling, from waiting next to the vehicle to just leaving the car plugged in while shopping.
"We're thinking, lunch hour, when they come and shop anyway," said Becky Gomez, promotions manager for Half Price Books. "We'll give them a basket, too."
The charging station can send text messages to drivers about the charging status.
Half Price will let customers use the stations for free until next September, when executives will decide whether to charge. Half Price buys renewable electricity from Green Mountain Energy.
Gomez said the store location, at 5803 E. Northwest Highway, draws customers who drive alternative-fuel vehicles, and she expects the chargers to get some use once the plug-in cars hit Texas.
"I know these people in Lake Highlands, Highland Park, University Park will be the people buying these vehicles," she said.
She added that Half Price Books executives wanted to have the first charging station in North Texas to compliment the company's earthy image.
The station isn't a promotion by electric vehicle companies. Gomez found charging manufacturer Coulomb Technologies Inc. online, and Half Price Books paid for the station and installation itself.
The station, with charging spots for two vehicles, costs about $10,000, including installation.
Guy Mannino, president of charging station distributor Verdek LLC, said the station at Half Price is designed for customers to "top off the battery."
Public charging stations require a change in customer mindset, since refueling can take a lot longer than gasing up.
"Park the car and go do something else," Mannino said. Something else, like shopping, watching a movie or eating at a restaurant.
Several companies are making electric vehicle announcements this month, as car manufacturers plan electric vehicle displays at the State Fair of Texas.