A Loss Leader to Get You Through the DoorCharging stations for electric cars and popping left and right (in France and California, for example). They're still a rare sight in most places, but that should change slowly over the next few years as more electric cars and plug-in hybrids come to market and become more affordable. Most people will charge these vehicles at home, and some companies are trying to build a business around fast charging stations (like Better Place with its battery-swapping stations), but there's a good chance that many businesses will offer free electricity as a way to lure customers in.
Come for the Free Electricity, Stay for the FoodAt least that's the theory proposed by Michael Kanellos, and it sounds very plausible to me.
At first it might be done mostly for the free publicity it will generate, but once the novelty wears off, it could still be profitable for retailers and restaurants to offer a few cents of free electricity (11 cents per kWh on average in the US) to get customers through the door.
In fact, I can foresee an interesting psychological benefit: At first, most people with electric cars will buy them because they think it's the right thing to do (not just by default, the way people buy ICE cars now). If they have a choice between 2 or 3 places to go eat or shop, and one of them offers free electricity, they'll probably feel that this business has values that are more aligned with theirs. This could help with customer loyalty.
Personally, I know that if I had an EV and a local restaurant allowed me to plug-in, I'd be more tempted to go there (everything else being the same). What about you?
More Electric Cars
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Big News: France to Spend $2.2 Billion on Electric Car Charging Stations
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