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Cracker Barrel Explores Energy Alternative via Electric Car Charging Stations

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. has joined The EV Project, and will install ECOtality’s Blink electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at restaurant and store locations.
As part of the agreement, Cracker Barrel will install ECOtality’s Blink EV charging stations, including both Level 2 and DC Fast Charge commercial electric vehicle charging stations, at 24 restaurant and store locations within EV Project markets beginning April 2011. Blink charging stations will be installed at 12 identified locations that support ECOtality’s previously announced EV blueprints in Tennessee and will connect the transportation corridors linking Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. The 12 Cracker Barrel store locations in Tennessee include: Athens, Cleveland, Cookeville, Crossville, East Ridge, Farragut, Harriman, Kimball, Lebanon, Manchester, Murfreesboro, and Nashville. The remaining 12 unidentified Cracker Barrel locations will be installed within other Tennessee locations that are within the boundaries of The
EV Project.
The announced locations for the charging stations were based on the results of ECOtality’s EV Micro-Climate process. The procedure takes into consideration a number of factors including geographic location, distance to major interstates and transportation routes, distance to other EV Project charging facilities and population density. Using the same procedure, ECOtality will work with Cracker Barrel to determine the location of the additional 12 charging locations.
“Cracker Barrel was founded along the interstate highways with the traveler in mind and has always anticipated what our guests might want and need as they stop in for some good country cookin’ and to experience genuine Southern hospitality,” says Cracker Barrel Chairman and chief executive officer Michael A. Woodhouse. “Becoming a leader in The EV Project continues our tradition of striving to anticipate and meet our guests’ expectations. We expect our guests will be quite interested in seeing these charging stations when they stop in with us. We like to think that our guests will be pleased to see Cracker Barrel taking an active role in exploring energy alternatives that are aimed at protecting the environment as well as strengthening the economy.”
About the solution
The Blink DC Fast Charger is capable of providing a full charge in less than 30 minutes. The Blink Level 2 and DC Fast Charging stations incorporate the Blink design and provide intelligent, user-friendly features to intuitively and safely charge electric vehicles, including fully interactive color touch screens and web-based information delivery via the Blink Network. A Blink Network smartphone application allows users to access charge station locations and GPS navigation, as well as charge status and notifications of completed or interrupted charging.
The Blink Network is an infrastructure of charging stations through which consumers can become members to receive various benefits for using commercial charging stations at locations across the country. Charging costs will vary based on local equipment operating costs and level of membership. While Blink Network membership does come with specific advantages, any EV driver will be able to charge at a Blink station through a variety of options including interoperable RFID cards or fobs, smartphone applications, mobile phone based payment options, and credit cards. The Blink Network will continue to employ secure and convenient methods of authentication and payment at Blink stations that leverage its network connected and over-the-air upgradeable 2-way touch screen interface to ensure ECOtality can service a wide array of the EV customer base long term.
ECOtality is project manager of The EV Project and will oversee the installation of 15,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 16 cities and major metropolitan areas in six states and the District of Columbia. The project will provide an EV infrastructure to support the deployment of 8,300 EVs. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through a federal stimulus grant of $114.8 million, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The grants are matched by private investment, bringing the total value of the project to approximately $230 million.
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