IKEA Wants You to See More Electric Cars — In Its Parking Lots

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IKEA plus Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Whether you love or hate IKEA, it’s everywhere. This week, both IKEA lovers and haters have a good reason to applaud the massive home furnishings retailer; IKEA has officially kicked off its fifth, sixth, and seventh Blink Level 2 EV charging station projects. 4 stations were plugged in at each of 3 IKEA stores – Covina, CA, Renton, WA, and Emeryville, CA, respectively.

To use the charging stations, drivers simply park in one of the designated spots and swipe their specialized Blink InCard (which can be acquired at www.blinknetwork.com). The driver then plugs the EV into the charger and everything’s all set. And of course, the more time you spend shopping, the more your battery charges (I see what you did there, IKEA).

Growing Support for Electric Cars

Helping support IKEA in its EV endeavors is ECOtality, the project manager of The EV Project. It’s meant to help set up the infrastructure necessary to support electric cars, and is funded partly by a federal stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Currently on ECOtality’s plate is the installation of 14,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 6 states (4 of which also host IKEA stores).

Various representatives of ECOtality expressed their enthusiasm for the IKEA projects at each of the three locations kicked off this week. Jason Smith, ECOtality’s San Francisco Bay Area Manager called the Emeryville IKEA a “highly desirable destination location,” a sentiment echoed by Pacific Northwest Regional Manager Rich Feldman and National Accounts Manager Brian Koontz.

“The Blink Network is about making the EV lifestyle fit the lifestyle of drivers nationwide,” Smith said in an interview with Business Wire. All three representatives specifically linked the word “excited” to the IKEA installations. As we said, IKEA is everywhere; ECOtality must be hoping some of the store’s visibility will translate into familiarity with EVs – not a bad thought.

Furniture Can Be Green, Too (Even When Mass-Produced)

Several IKEA employees were also interviewed by Business Wire and spoke positively of the EV project. In one of those interviews, Renton’s Diedre Goodchild, store manager, said:

“We are thrilled at how these electric-vehicle charging stations further the sustainability of IKEA Renton, and now are available to the public. We appreciate the support of ECOtality and Puget Sound Energy – our partners in helping facilitate and promote the use of EVs in the Pacific Northwest.”

Aside from supporting electric vehicles, IKEA likes to explain how environmentally conscious it is as a business; efforts worldwide include trying to conserve energy, using unusual materials in its products, and maintaining sustainable resources. In the United States, IKEA says it puts a lot of focus on recycled and recycling materials, as well as using energy-efficient lighting systems (skylights totally count as energy-efficient lighting systems, right?) and getting rid of plastic bags. Solar panels are also on the agenda – 75% of American IKEA stores will get them.

Are you an IKEA shopper? An EV owner? Would this sway you in favor of either one? Let us know in the comments, below.

Source: Business Wire (and here, and here) | Image: IKEA

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