Cracker Barrel Wants Their EV Charging Stations!

When I heard this story off the wire I was left with nothing to say; jaw drop! Cracker Barrel is getting into electric cars and building charging stations. Their pilot project state is Tennessee, where the iconic chain of restaurants is based and where there are extra incentives for electric cars.

As I wrote in the article on the Daily Green:

“Cracker Barrel will be rolling out fast chargers called the Blink, made by ECOtality, Inc, at select restaurant locations across Tennessee for Phase 1 of the project. The company will start in “The Tennessee Triangle,” the 425-mile stretch of interstate highway that connects Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. Twenty-four Cracker Barrel locations will have chargers, meaning EV owners could drive the entire region, charging up at Cracker Barrels along the way.

Digging starts in the spring of 2011 and will reportedly be completed within a few months. Half of the first 12 locations will feature 480-volt fast chargers (referred to as “Level 3” chargers), while the balance will get 240-volt “Level 2” chargers. Level 3 can charge an EV battery in about 20 minutes, as long as the system is able to handle it, which many early models can’t. In all cases, the juice won’t be free, as customers will be asked to swipe credit cards. The project is being paid for by the public-private partnership called The EV Project.”

“Our goal is to make sure there are readily available Blink public charger stations where people need them, in convenient locations,” Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOtality, said in a statement. “Cracker Barrel is a place that people like to visit and is uniquely located to provide a great service and convenience to the public. Cracker Barrel’s work with ECOtality will allow us to move a step closer towards creating an interconnected network of EV infrastructure,” he added.

How Many and Where?

The partners plan to install 24 charging sites, though they are starting Phase 1 with 12. Here are the first 12 for Tennessee:

  • Athens
  • Cleveland
  • Cookeville
  • Crossville
  • East Ridge
  • Farragut
  • Harriman
  • Kimball
  • Lebanon
  • Manchester
  • Murfreesboro
  • Nashville – Stewart’s Ferry Pike

The other 12 sites will be in and around the cities of Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga to support more local users. Specific locations will be announced as the EV Project progresses.

“Cracker Barrel was founded along the interstate highways with the traveler in mind and has always tried to anticipate what our guests might want and need as they stop in for some good country cookin’ and to experience genuine Southern hospitality,” said 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 and, at the same time, allows us to participate in a meaningful way in the nation’s explorations of energy independence.”

Woodhouse added, “While ownership of electric cars is small compared with traditional vehicles, there’s great curiosity about them, and so 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 our economy. This is a way of showing that Cracker Barrel is focused on the future even as we provide guests with a genuinely hospitable experience reminiscent of times past.”

Interestingly, Cracker Barrel stores had previously maintained gas pumps, but these were removed in the 1970s during the oil embargo.

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