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Ikea to Help Electric Car Owners Plug In

The charging stations, which are similar to gas pumps, are open to anyone.

Two 'Blink' electric vehicle charging stations at an Ikea in Portland, Ore. Credit: Joseph Roth/Ikea
Two 'Blink' electric vehicle charging stations at an Ikea in Portland, Ore. Credit: Joseph Roth/Ikea

Written by Mischa Arnosky

Felling the urge to take a trip but worried that your Volt/Leaf/Tesla might run out of “Vitamin E?” Ikea’s got you covered.

Ikea, extending its partnership with ECOtality, a company that specializes in electric transportation and storage technologies, will be installing two “Blink” electric vehicle charging stations at its Conshohocken store. 

Spokesman Joseph Roth said Ikea started installing electric vehicle charging stations at nine of its western stores about two years ago, and is now in the process of expanding the program, bringing the charging stations to seven more stores — including the Ikeas in Conshohocken and Philadelphia.

“Basically, as part of its partnership with ECOtality, certain metropolitan areas were deemed as ideal for the electric vehicle charging stations,” Roth said.

How do the charging stations work?

Roth said they’re similar to gas pumps in that an electric vehicle owner can plug his or her vehicle into the pump, swipe a credit card and fill up on some, uh … kilowatt hours.

The “pumps” are black with a white circle design that mimics that of the power on/off button on (smaller) electronic devices. Each station has a black cord with a universal connector and each has a designated parking space, with the letters “EV” painted in the middle.

Roth said Ikea is in the process of getting permits for the two charging stations but added that they’re expected to be installed — above-ground, near the loading zone — by the end of summer.

The charging stations aren’t just for customers and employees — they’re for everybody, Roth said. (Though you’ll probably take a look around the store if your vehicle is parked outside.) And though there isn’t a limit in place as to how long people can charge their vehicles, Roth said he expects people to use “the honor system.” If people start parking their EVs at Ikea overnight regularly, Roth said the store will likely put some limits in place.

“They’re actually pretty cool and straight-forward,” Roth said. “Part of the reason Ikea is installing the charging stations is because some people have issues with [electric vehicle] range anxiety — they don’t know if there will be a charging station nearby, so Ikea is going to help by being part of the network.”

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