Published on November 24th, 2011 | by Frankie Berti1
Walmart and ECOtality Advance EV Infrastructure
If you’ve been following our Cleantech Project Stories, you’ll know that ECOtality has been working on its EV network with eco-conscious companies like Ikea. ECOtality has brought out the big guns now, expanding the reach of its EV Project by partnering with Walmart, the world’s biggest corporation, to bring its Blink Pedestal electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to 10 stores throughout California, Oregon, and Washington. Blink Pedestal charging stations are designed for commercial and public locations. They are classified as Level 2, or 240 volt AC input, charging stations.
The EV Project is a publicly- and privately-funded campaign that acts as a large-scale test run for life with EV’s. The project’s goals include creating an EV infrastructure to support approximately 8,300 electric vehicles (pre-qualified Chevy Volts and Nissan LEAFs), as well as funding the installation of 14,000 electric chargers to commercial and residential locations in the United States. Its ultimate goal is to “take the lessons learned from the deployment of these first 8,300 EVs, and the charging infrastructure supporting them, to enable the streamlined deployment of the next 5,000,000 EVs.”
The partnership with Walmart may raise eyebrows and cries of “Greenwashing!” to those who haven’t been following its progress in environmental sustainability. Ever since former-CEO Lee Scott’s “Twenty First Century Leadership” speech in 2005, the company has labored intensively to change the way it handles its global supply chain and environmental impact. Mr. Scott set Walmart’s environmental goals to include being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, creating zero waste, and selling products that sustain resources and the environment. According to Scott’s speech, being green and being profitable are not mutually exclusive. Michael Duke, Walmart’s current CEO, seems to be committed to these goals; check out Walmart’s 2010 sustainability report to read its version.
Walmart’s impact on the environment still needs further study. Some argue that it is expanding too quickly for its environmental efforts to make a positive impact. What is certain is that the corporation is a polarizing entity, but it’s possible that the partnership with ECOtality will bode well for the development of EV infrastructure. At the very least, Walmart’s inclusion in the project will bring EV exposure beyond early adopters, thanks to the big box chain’s ubiquity and its steady stream of more than 100 million customers a week. We’ll leave its labor practices for another article.