Cracker Barrel to Install Electric Vehicle Chargers

By dancurranjr On December 4th, 2010

Cracker Barrel is charging back to its roots.

Next spring, the Lebanon-based store and restaurant chain will begin installing 24 electric vehicle chargers along the interstate corridor linking Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is working with ECOtality, the project manager for The EV Project, to install Blink electric vehicle chargers at select locations in “The Tennessee Triangle,” the 425-mile stretch of I-40, I-75 and I-24.

“It seems like a very modern thing, but actually it takes us back to our roots,” Cracker Barrel spokeswoman Julie Davis said Tuesday, when the pilot project was announced.

The Hamilton Crossing Cracker Barrel at Louisville Road and the U.S. 129 Bypass in Alcoa is not on the initial list of 12 locations to receive the chargers, but Davis said that does not mean it has been ruled out as a future site.

Providing power to vehicles traces to the company’s origins in 1969. Danny Evins, the company’s founder who grew up in rural Tennessee, was in Atlanta visiting the zoo when he came up with the idea of a store/restaurant to serve interstate travelers, Davis said.

Since Evins was an “oil jobber,” it was only natural that his concept include gasoline pumps. The company removed the pumps in the early ’70s during the oil embargo.

Michael Woodhouse, Cracker Barrel chairman and CEO, said the business has always tried to anticipate what customers need when they “stop in for some good country cookin’ and to experience genuine Southern hospitality.”

While ownership of electric cars is currently small compared to gasoline vehicles, Woodhouse said there is great curiosity about them.

“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,” he said.

Twelve of the 24 Cracker Barrel locations that will have chargers installed have been identified. All will be positioned along the interstate corridor — Athens, Cleveland, Cookeville, Crossville, East Ridge, Farragut, Harriman, Kimball, Lebanon, Manchester, Murfreesboro and Nashville.

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.

Guests at the selected Cracker Barrels will be able to get an 80 percent charge — the recommended charge — in just under a half-hour at the 12 Cracker Barrel locations which will have the DC Fast Charging stations. These guests will essentially be able to “fill ’er up” in about the same amount of time it takes to order and eat a meal.

Guests visiting the 12 locations that will have the Blink EV L2 chargers, which are slower than the DC Fast Charging stations, will be able to top off their battery “tanks,” so to speak.

ECOtality 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.

SOURCE: The Daily Times

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