Kwik Trip Charges Ahead of Curve

Installing electric vehicle plug-in stations at new sites in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- A convenience store chain is installing free electric-vehicle charging stations at stores in three Midwest states. But will the stations--essentially standard household outlets with a sign attached--really make a difference?

The family-owned Kwik Trip chain is installing the stations at all its new stores, a total of 25 so far in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. But the outlets only provide 110 volts, which, charging for the few minutes it takes to grab coffee and use the bathroom, would barely get someone out of the parking lot and down the block. Charging [image-nocss] for an hour at that voltage might allow a typical electric vehicle to run 3 to 5 miles.

Kwik Trip officials and electric-vehicle proponents acknowledge the limitations, but say the charging stations are a significant symbolic move and also lay the groundwork for more powerful charging stations in the future. With the infrastructure laid for 110-volt stations, Kwik Trip spokesman Dave Ring said, the company can more easily upgrade the stations to higher voltage if demand increases.

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