Spinx Goes Electric

Retailer plans to be first c-store operator with electric-vehicle charging stations in South Carolina

By 
Linda Abu-Shalback Zid, Senior Editor

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- When Chevy and Nissan launch their electric vehicles later this year, The Spinx Co. will be ready. The retailer plans to install five electric-vehicle charging stations to help establish a network throughout South Carolina. Spinx will be the first convenience store retailer to have the chargers in South Carolina, Spinx spokesperson Melody Hudson told CSP Daily News.

Thurso Power, distributor of the charging stations, is based in Greenville, S.C., where Spinx is also based, and reportedly installed the first South Carolina charger at its own facility [image-nocss] in mid-September.

Spinx was quick to jump on board. "We heard about this, and it was another way for us to serve our customers," Hudson said. "Our entire platform is built around 'making life easier.' That's our tagline, so this was an opportunity for us to service additional customer needs."

Spinx plans to install the chargers by the end of the year in Greenville, Columbia, Moncks Corner, Greer and one other location that was undisclosed at press time. The Greer location is near a BMW manufacturing plant, and BMW has announced plans for an electric vehicle (EV) in 2013. Selection criteria for the sites also included being near highways, and creating the network to facilitate travel to more places with electric vehicles.

According to Brian Edens, president of Thurso, "A lot of people who drive EVs are cognizant of range anxiety or range considerations, and will be constantly looking for places to top off the battery charge." It can take a half an hour to an hour for a top off. "So the idea is to put these in the public places, where people might want to go and spend a little bit of time anyway." The charging station, which can charge two vehicles at the time, can then e-mail or text someone when the car is fully charged.

He added, "It's a perfect way to initially attract the people, and then once they're there, increase their spend."

Spinx hadn't yet determined pricing for charging. Edens said companies might charge standard fees, offer free charges for an introductory period or give free charges with, for example, a $10 purchase. (He added that Thurso also is in discussions with other c-store retailers.)

The company is no stranger to alternative fueling. According to the company's website, Spinx sells biodiesel at 41 locations and is the largest E85 retailer in the Southeast. Hudson said, "We understand that people have alternative fuel needs, and we want to service those customers."(See related story in this issue of CSP Daily News on BP adding electric-vehicle charging stations at BP and ARCO stations.)Spinx operates more than 70 convenience retail stores in South Carolina and North Carolina.