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USA: Charging stations: More jolts for Volts

A couple of years ago, with the introduction of electric cars such as Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, electric car charging stations were installed at Aventura Mall. As the technology improves and electric cars become more common, other locations in Miami-Dade are offering the same service.
“We’re seeing substantial interest,” said Michael D. Farkas, CEO of Miami Beach-based Car Charging Group, which owns and maintains the charging units at Aventura Mall.
Local clients, he said, include the City of Miami Beach, the Fontainebleau and Four Seasons hotels and Artech Condominium. “The Related Group will be installing them in their condo projects,” Mr. Farkas said.
Thanks to government tax incentives, subsidies, loan guarantees and grants, Car Charging is able to provides EV charging stations at no charge, he said. Property owners have some input into where the units will be located, but once an agreement outlining rules and responsibilities is signed, Car Charging takes care of the details.
“We do a site survey, install the hardware, provide maintenance, management, insurance and upgrades, and add more units when the need arises,” Mr. Farkas said. “We reimburse their electricity cost plus provide a percentage of revenues.”
At the current rate of usage — about 20 to 30 charges per month — Aventura Mall’s four charging stations — two at Bloomindale’s and two at Nordstrom — “are not a moneymaker for us,” said Assistant Manager Jory Thomas. “It comes to just a few dollars a month. It’s more a service for our customers.”
A charge typically takes about two hours, she said — which is also the average time customers spend at the mall.
Usage has been picking up slowly, Ms. Thomas said.
“We try to keep the parking spots empty,” she said. “We hope to add more stations once we have usage uptick.”
Mr. Farkas said Aventura Mall’s four stations is unusual. “Typically we install one unit, unless there is a specific need or the property is extremely large,” he said. “One unit can handle one, two or even four parking spaces.
“These units are smart. They are all networked, and we can monitor the usage. When we see increased usage, we can add additional units.”


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