Electric-vehicle owners in South Florida will soon have more public car-charging stations available — at Walgreens drugstores.
Five charging stations are set to open by summer at Walgreens pharmacies in Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, Coconut Creek, Weston and Sunny Isles, according to Miami Beach-based Car Charging Group, which is installing the machines.
Walgreens plans to install charging stations at about 800 locations nationwide this year, aiming to become the largest retail host of the chargers nationwide. It wants to offer convenient sites for customers, especially in urban areas where residents may lack a home garage for a plug-in.
The pharmacy chain already has installations under way at more than 60 stores in Houston, Dallas, Chicago and Orlando from three different car-charger installers.
In the Orlando area, plans call for at least six in Walgreens stores by summer, according to installation company Car Charging Group. The company expects to install as many as 300 unit for Walgreens this year, president Andy Kinard said in an interview Tuesday.
In Florida, the Walgreens stations will cost about $2.49 an hour. That’s more than what drivers pay if they charge up at home but still less than half the cost of gas for comparable mileage, Kinard said.
President Obama has set a goal for the United States to host 1 million plug-in electric vehicles by 2015, which would represent less than 1 percent of all vehicles on U.S. roads.
That goal likely can be reached in late 2016, based on current sales trends, according to a recent study by Pike Research, a Colorado-based clean technology analysis company. Pike forecasts 289,000 plug-in vehicles will be sold nationwide in 2016 and 303,000 sold in 2017.
Sales of plug-in cars have been slow for two main reasons, analysts say: prices are sometimes $5,000 higher than conventional gas-powered vehicles, even after a $7,500 federal subsidy, plus an insufficient network of electric car-charging stations.
South Florida has the state’s only dealership for the plug-in Tesla sports car — in Dania Beach. It hosts a chapter of the Electric Auto Association in Boca Raton. And the Car Charging Group already has charging stations in many cities, including Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and Deerfield Beach.
Florida has lagged the rest of the nation for plug-in cars, because the state tends to be slow in adopting new technologies, according to Mike Jackson, chief executive of Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation, the country’s largest retailer.
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