expects to offer charging stations at 10 to 20 stores in the
Midwest later this year. Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores
will provide 24 charging stations along the Tennessee
Triangle, a corridor connecting Nashville, Knoxville and
Chattanooga. And franchise restaurant owners across the
country are adding them here and there as a way to entice
and keep customers.
Some traditional retail fuel marketers also are
experimenting with the new technology. BP is testing and
evaluating Blink DC fast chargers at 45 different BP and
ARCO stations as part of BP’s participation in the federal
EV Project. Murphy Oil and 7-Eleven also are expected to
introduce the new technology in the near future.
EXPERIMENT OR PROGRAM?
Of the 4,192 automobiles produced in the U.S. back
in 1900, 28 percent were powered by electricity. As a
result, electric autos represented about one-third of all
cars found on the roads of New York City, Boston and
Chicago. What began as an “experiment” years
earlier had developed into a “program.” Within 20
years, however, the electric car ceased to be a viable
commercial product, as the desire for longer-distance
vehicles, increased horsepower and ample supplies
of gasoline moved the nation to mass-produced
Now the nation may be poised to move from an
experiment to a program again—but this time with
electric, not gasoline. Some observers argue the point—
insisting that electric is still an experiment—and most
likely destined for failure. Yet others believe we have
turned the corner and the electric car is here to stay.
Whatever way it turns out, PEI members will have
to consider the role they will play in the marketplace.
There are, indeed, many options—and
opportunities—available for you. And at this point, there
is no “right” or “wrong” decision. A range of factors—
from your personnel to your overall business strategy
to your location—will combine to point you in one
direction or another.
Make no mistake about it. The stakes are high. By
reducing global dependence on petroleum, PEVs may
help address some of the world’s most pressing risks: energy
insecurity, environmental damages from oil spills, urban
air pollution and global climate change. Time will tell.
And it certainly will be interesting to see how everything
Robert N. Renkes is the executive vice president and general
counsel of PEI.