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Business

February 24, 2013

Workplaces offer electric car charging

(Continued)

Last month, the Energy Department unveiled the Workplace Charging Challenge, an initiative to boost the number of U.S. companies offering the benefit from about 50 to about 500 in five years. The plan stems from the government’s EV Everywhere program, which aims to make EVs as affordable and convenient as conventional vehicles over the next decade.

Among employers, the concept “is not particularly prevalent right now, but there are great benefits that can be realized through workplace charging,” said Pat Davis, director of the Energy Department’s Vehicle Technologies Office. “Where is a place people spend a lot of time with their vehicles? The workplace is No. 2 (after residences), so the workplace becomes a charging opportunity.”

Charging at work is seen as convenient because it can take some EVs six to eight hours to fully charge, using a standard 110-volt socket (less time with higher voltage offered at some stations). Hybrid electric cars can usually go about 40 miles fully charged, while some all-electric models can run up to 100 miles fully charged.

Companies that install the stations have done so to support corporate sustainability efforts and to attract and retain employees, Davis said. The hope is that companies that sign on to the Energy Department’s challenge will be seen as trailblazers at a time when most consumers are still unfamiliar with EVs.

“Most people have never driven one,” Davis said, so seeing a co-worker drive one can be a “visible demonstration of how these vehicles can work for you.”

The first companies to join the workplace challenge include automakers, utilities and tech companies that already offer some stations, as well as companies still exploring the idea, Davis said. All have pledged within six months to assess the demand for workplace charging at least one major company location and to install stations to serve those needs.

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