Hybrid cars charge the norm


Hybrid cars gain momentum in U.S. as leading companies begin to recognize benefits in alternatives to a gas-powered fleet.

President Obama pledged to have one million plug-in vehicles on American roads by 2015, which would make the United States the first nation in the world to do so. Hilton Hotels, FedEx, Coca-Cola and Walgreen’s have shifted to more hybrid and fuel cell vehicles in company car fleets, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association.

Walgreen’s announced an initiative March 7, 2013 to become the nation’s first “net zero energy retail store,” meaning the popular retailer will produce more energy than it consumes. Charging ports, solar panels and wind turbine technology have been installed at a number of its U.S. locations.

Provo Walgreen’s Assistant Store Manager, Kyle Hall, says he hasn’t seen much public use of the charging station since its inception and that corporate executives use it the most to cut traveling expenses.

“Corporate (has) their district managers and store mangers use rented cars to drive around to go visit different stores,” Hall said, “and this is a way to cut down on fuel costs.”

Pike Research, a market research company in green technology, released a 2009 study on the possible retail of electricity for hybrid car owners, and forecasts charging stations are more likely to be installed at owners’ homes than at traditional fuel stations.

Vehicles powered by alternative fuel accelerate to acceptance. (AP Photo)
Vehicles powered by alternative fuel accelerate to acceptance. (AP Photo)

Costs to charge electric cars like General Motors’ Chevy Volt average 80 cents for a full 40-mile charge using a “house current.” Therefore customers have little incentive to pay higher prices expected at retail stations. The Pike study concluded that public charging stations will likely be free at some businesses, to attract more customers and increase sales on in-store merchandise.

Asked if he would buy a hybrid, Hall says it’s nice to have the charging station so close, but, “I like my four-wheel drive pickup,” he said.

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