“You can’t beat free charging with front-row parking!” That’s how one Macy’s customer recently summed up his reaction to the 35 free electric car charging stations now located outside 19 Macy’s locations – and more are on the way. Most charging stations are in Southern California where the market for electric cars is rapidly growing. Along with electric charging station partner Volta, we recently added locations in the San Francisco market, as well. With expansion to other markets under consideration, we now have 51 electric vehicle charging stations in California. “It’s a trend that’s really gaining momentum, and Macy’s is helping pave the way for a future with less dependence on fossil fuels,” said site planning executive Harry Koehler.
Electric vehicles drastically reduce drivers’ carbon footprints, because they have no exhaust system and are emissions-free. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, up to 80 percent of the energy in an electric car’s battery is directly used to power the car, compared to the 14–26 percent of battery energy in gasoline-powered vehicles. And, electric-vehicle batteries are 100 percent recyclable.
The trend toward electric vehicles has quickly grown over the past few years, and that growth trend is expected to continue. The Union of Concerned Scientists says the United States saw a 32 percent annual growth rate in electric vehicles between 2012 and 2016, and the growth rate now stands at 40 percent.
By 2020, another dozen electric cars are expected to come to market, including new models from Tesla, Audi and Nissan. Industry website Electrek says that if even half of these new models are mass-produced, it will have a tremendous impact on the adoption rate for electric vehicles.
What’s driving the rapid growth? Sustainability and cost-effectiveness are two of the major factors. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, driving an electric vehicle is much more cost-effective than driving a gas-powered one. Electricity is less expensive than gas, and since many users charge their cars at home, the only fee they incur is in their monthly electric bill.
In addition to their environmental benefits, consumers love them. In a recent survey of California drivers, Union of Concerned Scientists found that 67 percent are interested in electric vehicles, and more than half want every automaker to offer one. Another 44 percent could use an electric vehicle in their lives now based on their driving needs.
There is a drawback for electric vehicles and driving long distances – the average electric car can go about 100 miles on a single charge. And that’s where our electric vehicle charging stations come into play, according to Harry. “It provides our customers an opportunity to charge their vehicles while they’re out in the community, rather than just when they’re at home,” he said. “We’re making the charging stations available at no cost, which is a great way to support sustainability in our communities.” As of Nov. 11, 2017, Macy's has given 1.5 million free miles to electric-vehicle drivers through Volta charging stations. That's enough to offset more than 679,000 pounds of CO2 emissions. “It’s the equivalent of 34,000 gallons of gasoline,” said Harry.
Another added benefit for electric-car drivers is that our charging stations are typically the parking spots closest to the stores. “It’s expensive to run a line of electric current from the building to a parking area,” said Harry, “So that means the charging stations are also great, close-in parking spots.”
As we consider locations for additional electric vehicle charging stations, there’s an external factor that comes into play. “We own the land adjacent to our Macy’s stores at most of our locations, so installing charging stations in parking spaces is typically in partnership with our charging station partner, Volta. We also work, however, with local owner/developer property management teams to plan the most comprehensive and functional electric vehicle charging station configurations possible for a particular site. As demand continues to grow, we’ll likely continue to add more. Customers love them and their convenience, and we’re doing something good for the environment at the same time.”