Walmart opens two new charging stations for electric vehicles in Arkansas

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 510 views 

Walmart announced Tuesday (Aug. 7) it has opened two new charging stations for electric vehicles (EV) at Supercenter locations in Arkansas.

Partnering with Electrify America, Walmart stores in Hope and Forrest City join sites where motorists can recharge their electric vehicles as part of the retailer’s effort to grow the plug and charge national network that fits with Walmart’s sustainability initiative.

Walmart has had charging stations in select Walmart and Sam’s Club locations (in Bentonville and Fayetteville) with a project run with partner EVGo from 2011 to 2017. Together, Walmart and EVGo put in more than 300 EV charging stations through January 2017.

However, a more recent partnership with Electrify America first announced in April has Walmart adding several hundred more EV charging stations over the next few years. The new charging stations will span 36 states and bring Walmart’s total number of chargers to well over 1,000. That will make Walmart one of the nation’s leading EV charging station hosts and create a national grid of availability at hundreds of Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations.

“Along with providing our customers with an enhanced shopping experience through added convenience, this initiative also allows us to contribute to the expansion of our nation’s EV charging station infrastructure,” said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart. “Many of our Walmart associates and customers are EV drivers so providing access to these stations is the right thing to do for our customers, our business and the environment.”

Customers simply follow a “plug-pay-charge-go” sequence and users are guided through their experience by a 15-inch touchscreen on each charger. After plugging into their vehicles, users initiate a charging session by simply inserting or swiping their credit or debit card. Users are given the option for text messaging on in-session monitoring and delivery of an electric receipt.

Walmart said the new EV charging stations allow for quicker charges, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes. Electrify America provided more specifics, saying the Walmart installations include DC fast chargers with up to 350 kilowatts of power that can replenish 20 miles of range per minute, allowing customers to shop while they fill up.

The stations will also serve CHAdeMo and CCS Combo plugs to accommodate the widest variety of electric cars on the road. Also standard Level 2, 240-volt chargers will be available for electric cars and plug-in hybrids that don’t have DC fast-charge capability.

The cost for using electric vehicle charging stations is 12 cents per kWh — the national average. The cost to go about 100 miles is roughly $3.48, according to Edmunds.com.

The Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research 2018 survey found the U.S. is second only to China in registration of electric vehicles. The report found there were 752,520 electric cars, including last year’s 195,140 newly registered vehicles operating in the U.S. While the number is growing, it remains only a fraction of the total estimated 253 million cars and trucks on the U.S. roads today.

“We recognize that electric vehicles are going to grow and become more relevant,” Vanderhelm said. “We are trying to get out in front of that.”

The Walmart charging stations are part of a broader Electrify America project to install 2,000 chargers at nearly 500 charging stations across the country by June 2019. Electrify America said in April 80% of the Walmart charging stations would be at store locations alongside highways, while the remaining 20% would be in metro areas. The locations were chosen because their proximity to major interstate highways that criss-cross the country. The two new locations in Arkansas flank Interstates 40 and 30. The older station at the Sam’s Club in Fayetteville is located off Interstate 49.

Other Walmart Supercenter locations slated to get the Electrify America charging stations in the coming months include:

Morgan Colo., Chipley, Fla., Bushnell, Fla., Commerce, Ga., Colby, Kan., Hays, Kan., Topeka, Kan., Sulphur, La., Lebanon, Mo., Mount Vernon, Mo., Missoula, Mont., Albany, N.Y., Grants Pass, Ore., and Spring, Texas.

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