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One million electric vehicles (EV) on the road by 2015. That was the benchmark proposed by President Obama in his State of the Union address. But to make it a reality, those million drivers will need reliable and convenient places to juice up.
Since 2009, the Department of Energy has invested more than $5 billion into EVs, in part for deploying infrastructure. Under the DOE's Transportation Electrification Initiative, a consortium of companies is deploying an EV infrastructure pilot project with a goal of placing 22,000 charging stations in the U.S. by 2013. As of October, DOE data indicate 1,718 stations currently in place, with 638 of those located in California.
Beyond DOE initiatives, several manufacturers have pushed new charging station products into the market. The range of choice speaks to how dynamic the market is, and how overwhelming. As the market continues to mature, facility managers will have to determine what system to use, select a contractor to install the charging station and establish policies governing its use. Of course, first they must decide if the time is right to plug their facility into EV infrastructure. For the following early-adopters, that time is now, and their stories hold lessons for facility managers who may still be on the fence.
The owned model, where a facility simply buys and installs its charging station, is currently the most common strategy among commercial owners, says Robert Best, executive vice president with Jones Lang LaSalle, which has created a one-stop shop EV program for the properties it manages. But there are other options.
At King of Prussia (Pa.) Mall, Simon Property Group has an agreement with a third-party vendor which is supplying the charging stations and managing the mall's EV program, from maintenance to future customer fees. Once the introductory period is over, Simon Property Group will get a share of the profits from the stations. "We're looking at this as a wave of the future," says Robert Hart, mall general manager. "We wanted to offer it as a convenience to our customers." The stations were located in a parking deck adjacent one of the busiest stores in the mall.