With only 17,000 electric cars sold in the U.S. last year, the stations are seen more as a marketing strategy by retailers than as a service customers are clamoring for. "Retailers view the chargers as a good investment for the future, a way to one-up competitors and burnish a green reputation."
Walgreen Co. is leading the way with the installation of chargers at 800 stores nationwide. "If the electric car movement takes off, Walgreen is hoping to snatch sales from nearby gas stations that "seek the same convenience-type customers," Menno Enters, director of energy and sustainability for the company, said.
However dubious the motivation, the prevalence of charging stations could have the impact of providing a cautious car buying public with assurance that the infrastructure to support electric vehicles is quickly ramping up.