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Costco Pulls The Plug On Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

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EV charging station at Costco

EV charging station at Costco

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Back in the 1990s, when it seemed like electric vehicles were gaining traction with consumers, Costco did something unusual: the big-box retailer installed charging stations at many of its California locations. Now, however, those stations are being removed, and electric car fans aren't happy.

According to Plug In America, Costco has offered no official explanation for removing the charging stations other than the Xeroxed signs taped to each that read, "Please be advised that this electric charger will be removed on August 15th, 2011. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Costco's move seems curious for a couple of reasons. For starters, the California Energy Commission has launched a special grant program to fund the upgrade of older, AVCON charging stations to newer J1772 models that can accommodate modern electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. Costco would seem to be tailor-made for that initiative, so why not apply?

But apart from the fact that upgrading should be of minimal cost to Costco is the fact that sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids are booming these days. At a time when other companies (even McDonald's!) are rolling out the red carpet for electric vehicle owners, why would Costco yank the rug out from under them?

There's a chance that Costco is unaware of the Energy Commission's grant program. If that's the case, we're pretty sure they know about it now. 

However, there's also the chance that Costco knows of the program and simply doesn't care -- which would be short-sighted at best, terrible PR at worst.

If you're a fan of electric cars and/or plug-in hybrids and want Costco to keep charging stations for its customers, you can send a personalized email to the company's CEO, James Sinegal, by clicking here.

[PlugInAmerica]

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Comments (18)
  1. COSTCO was never required to put in chargers in the first place, nor are they required to do so now. And the claim that electric
    vehicles are all over the place is nothing but a lie - just look
    at the sales of the Volt and the Leaf - they're paltry. I'm not even sure either car has ever parked in a COSTCO lot. And why do you think EV owners should be given free electricity? I don't see COSTCO giving gas powered car owners free gasoline. It is quite
    an elitist and greedy attitude that EV owners are acquiring - they think they should be paid by me and other taxpayers for buying an electric car and installing a high speed charger and now they think they should be given free electricity and their own exclusive parking spaces. Welfare anyone?
     
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  2. Kent: As we have now explained numerous times, Leaf and Volt sales are constrained not by lack of demand but by the rampup of production. See here: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1064283_electric-car-sales-leaf-trounces-volt-but-dont-take-it-seriously

    I'm also puzzled by how Costco giving electric-car drivers free electricity worth $2 or less translates to "being paid by [you] and other taxpayers".
     
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  3. Every time I see Mr Beuchert post, I am momentarily confused by thinking of Sherry Boschert the EV advocate. Guess he is not related.
     
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  4. Hey Kent - and how much of OUR tax money is going to train/arm/deploy and sustain military units that protect and help your much needed oil convoys from the middle east? And let's not even talk about how much of those funds go to waste or to terrorists/contractors that we are fighting against...ever factor that into your supposed notion of 'welfare' that ev advocates burden the system with?
     
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  5. According to Cars.com there are 751 Volts and 265 Leafs at dealers lots. Given the lack of options and colors I would think any consumer needs, in color and trim, could easily be met by the current inventory.
     
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  6. A retailer doesn't benefit from dedicating parking slots to a limited class of vehicles. Costco's made very few blunders causing a negative impact on their bottom line. I doubt this will be one of them.
     
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  7. Costco sells gasoline. Finally electric cars are becoming viable and are no longer a novelty. No profit in selling or giving away watts, significant profit in selling gasoline.
     
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  8. Costco does not make the majority of it's profits from gas sales, they make profits from in store items. If Costco wants sales they will install chargers.
     
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  9. "sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids are booming these days."

    Laughable. A complete lie.

    I guarantee you that a combination of unreimbursed costs, a total lack of consumer demand, The Peoples Republic of California hyper-regulations, and liablity concerns killed the silly plug in stations.
     
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  10. Wow, Kent Beuchert under another name? Angry, cynical, dismissive, contemptuous, anti-government, anti-California, and not bothering with any actual facts ... all in one acid little tantrum.
     
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  11. "sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids are booming these days."

    Rolling on the flood laughing out loud at describing 125 Chevy Volt sales in July as "booming"!
     
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  12. 125? That's weird, since the factory was closed for retooling and every one previously made was pre-ordered, I wonder how they managed to conjure up another 125?
     
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  13. The 125 refers to cars SOLD, not manufactured. Those 125 cars were "in the pipeline" between the factory and dealers.
     
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  14. Volt sales were so low not because the demand wasn't there, but because the factory was shut down for a month to retool it to produce up to 5,000 Volts per month--a large increase. We explain it all for you here:
    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1064283_electric-car-sales-leaf-trounces-volt-but-dont-take-it-seriously
     
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  15. Just so you know, according to the law in California, parking in a public lot can ONLY be restricted so as to allow access for the handicapped, with proper placards. If I was to show up at a Costco, or any other public parking lot, in my Ford F-350 Four Door Diesel, I would pull into the "restricted" space and walk away. Go ahead. Tow it. I'll see you in court.
     
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  16. Wow, just wow. I suppose you would then back over the Leaf or other plugin that had to block the spot in order to charge? I guess you just don't realize how much oil has affected our country and our military.

    Electricity is a _Made In America_ fuel that allows us to (slowly) break our addiction to terrorist-funding-oil-producing states and their _imported_ product.
     
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  17. They are taking them out because nobody is using them. Why should anyone install them or any "free" (tax payer funded) upgrades when no one uses them? Hats off to Costco and the free market for making the decision.
     
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  18. There are now over 5000 Nissan Leaf cars around the early distribution states and another 3500 or so Chevy Volts. For 2012 model year, Chevy expects to roll out 45,000 Volts and Nissan will deliver around 20,000 Leaf cars based on earlier announcements. Sure, last year and the years before, there were few EVs to us any public charging stations, but that IS changing. Heck, we had over a dozen different EVs congregate last Saturday of a public education day on this emerging technology here in Sacramento.

    Costco is very short-sighted in removing EV charging points just when the wave is coming in, and when they could upgrade existing stations for FREE...and in several areas, including Sacramento get new stations installed also for FREE.
     
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