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Big Box Retailers Take Electric Vehicle Charging Mainstream

Accenture forecasts 1.5 million electric vehicles in the U.S. by 2015 with 10 million electric vehicles possible by 2020

The push by drugstore operator Walgreen Co. and home improvement retailer Lowe's Cos . Inc. to install electric vehicle charging stations at some of their stores signals increased consumer demand for the technology.

In fact, according to Clean Fleet Report, Accenture forecasts 1.5 million electric vehicles in the U.S. by 2015 with more than 10 million electric vehicles possible by 2020.

While you may be familiar with the much-hyped Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, which both went on sale last year, or the insanely-fast Tesla Roadster, which can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, other manufacturers are getting into the game, including Ford, Honda and Mercedes, to name just a few.

Major corporations are responding to the demand.

By the end of the year, Walgreen will be installing electric vehicle chargers at 800 of its U.S. locations and Lowe's will be selling fast-charging GE WattStation Wall Mount Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in more than 60 of its stores.

According to Pro Tool Reviews, the charger that will be sold at Lowe's will cost $1,000-1,500, which is significantly cheaper than GE's commercial version that costs $3,000-7,000. The wall-mounted Level 2 charger for consumers operates on a 208-240VAC circuit and fully charges an electric car in four to eight hours compared with standard overnight charging that can take up to 12 to 14 hours.

As for Walgreen, by installing so many charging stations it will become the nation's largest retail host of electric vehicle charging stations. Its units will feature either a high-speed direct current charger that can add 30 miles of range in as little as 10 minutes of charging time, or a Level 2 charger that can add up to 25 miles of range per hour of charge.

The company, which already has started installing chargers at stores in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago, will also be charging electric vehicles in Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as well as select locations in Florida, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington.

According to The New York Times, 350Green, a charging infrastructure provider, will bill drivers charging their cars at Walgreens stores about $3 to $4 for a 90-minute connection, with prices varying with the cost of grid electricity.

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