Electric car charging stations coming to Best Buy

Folks looking to get eco-friendly with an electric car—or at least put part of their carbon footprint out of sight over the hills—will soon have one more place they can drive their ultra-quiet vehicles: Ecotality has announced a deal with electronics retailer Best Buy (PDF) to install Blink EV charging stations at 12 Best Buy locations in Arizona, California, and Washington by March 2011. The pilot program is part of The EV Project, which is seeking to develop an infrastructure for supporting electric-only vehicles. The projects at Best Buy will analyze how EV customers use the charging stations and develop best practices for creating future EV infrastructure in a variety of locations.

“As the private sector will ultimately drive consumer electric vehicle adoption, our goal has been to establish a charging network that is conveniently placed in familiar places to meet consumers’ needs,” said Ecotality CEO Jonathan Read, in a statement. “In order for EV infrastructure to be a success, it is essential that private enterprises take an active role. Best Buy has shown true leadership as becoming a launch partner for The EV Project and exemplifies how corporate responsibility initiatives can directly benefit the customer experience, environment and society.”

The EV charging stations will roll out at Best Buy locations in Tuscon, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle. The locations will take into account things like distance from other existing charging stations, proximity to interstates and other major routes, and population density. Electric cars might have their advantages, but one of them is not usually range: for instance, the Nissan Leaf can operate for about 80 to 100 miles between charges, meaning most residential users can’t go much further than 40 or 50 miles from home…unless they know where they can hook up to a charging station along the way. Nissan believes most people will want to charge their electric cars at home overnight, since a complete charge takes several hours, but Blink says its commercial chargers will be able to deliver a “meaningful” charge in as little as 15 minutes.

The commercial Blink Network EV chargers feature color touch screens and connect to a Web-based portal that shows a vehicles’s charge status, history, stats, and billing information, along with a bunch of payment options.

The EV Project, managed by Ecotality, hopes to install some 15,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 16 cities across six states.

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