Retailers nationwide are getting ready for the rise of the electric car. Walgreens and IKEA both recently announced plans to install EV charging stations at their stores, following several other companies who have committed to help make EV charging a function of daily errands and shopping.

Walgreens rolled out possibly the most aggressive agenda yet for the implementation of EV charging stations. The drug store says that by the end of 2011, it plans to have a whopping 800 charging stations in place at stores throughout various markets including Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, and New York, which will be the first metro area to receive the chargers.

Built by 350Green, a Washington, DC-based company specializing in installing EV chargers, the Walgreens units will be either Level 3 chargers, which can add approximately 30 miles of range in 10 minutes, or Level 2 units that add about 25 miles of range per hour. Walgreens says the charging stations won't be free to use, but will instead feature two types of pay options: one where customers pay per use, and another allowing customers to pay up front like a cell phone subscription.

While IKEA's program isn't as ambitious, it too signals the electric car's increasing popularity among American consumers. IKEA has announced a new pilot program will bring EV charging to 10 stores in the western United States, including locations in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington. The furniture giant says the pilot program kicks off this fall and is designed to run through December 2012.

But it's not just IKEA and Walgreens getting in to the EV-charging game. Late last year, Grand Rapids, Michigan-based grocery store Meijer announced plans to begin installing EV chargers at some of its locations, and major mall owner Simon Property Group revealed similar plans in April.

The addition of charging stations at retail stores shouldn't come as a surprise. Analysts project more than 1 million electric cars will be on the road by 2015, and the inclusion of chargers may entice shoppers to spend more time inside stores while their cars are charging up. But the ever-increasing infrastructure may signal something more important for car shoppers as a whole: electric cars are here to stay.

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David Boldt began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journallismin 1993. David has written for a varity of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.

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