ORANGE COUNTY, CA—The new electric-vehicle charging stations that are cropping up in Southern California’s shopping centers are having a positive effect on the retailers at those centers: customers are spending more time there. Retail real estate firm Simon Property Group‘s VP of operational efficiency Ron Hanson tells GlobeSt.com that customers with electric vehicles spend significantly more time at the malls than the average customer without an electric vehicle.
“We’ve been monitoring the length of time for the typical vehicle to charge at our stations and comparing that time with the average amount of time a typical customer spends at a mall,” says Hanson. “Customers with electric vehicles spend 50% more time at the malls. It’s advantageous for our retailers to have them in their stores for that time.”
Hanson adds that this trend has been consistent in malls across the country. The average charge time is roughly 90 minutes as compared to the average shopping time of 60 minutes for a non-electric-vehicle customer. “It can vary from one mall to another and how much charge the vehicle has left when the customer arrives, but so far trends are indicating extended shopping time.”
Simon and and NRG eVgo, a subsidiary of NRG Energy Inc., are installing electric-car fast-charging Freedom Station sites at four Orange County Simon shopping centers: the Shops at Mission Viejo, Brea Mall, Westminster Mall and the Outlets at Orange. The stations can recharge shoppers’ vehicles in 30 minutes or less.
The Shops at Mission Viejo’s Freedom Station opened at the end of May. It will be located in the parking lot between Forever 21 and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. Brea Mall is looking to open its Freedom Station early this month. It will be located in the parking lot near California Pizza Kitchen, on the south side of the newly renovated center. Westminster Mall is expected to open its Freedom Station in mid-June. It will be located in the parking lot near DSW, between Sears and JCPenney, on the northeast side of the mall. The Outlets at Orange’s Freedom Station opened in April and is located in the parking lot near Neiman Marcus Last Call and Burke Williams Day Spa.
According to Hanson, “Our growing network of state-of-the-art electric-vehicle charging stations at our shopping centers shows our commitment to delivering a more sustainable shopping experience that is also convenient for our customers. Adding charging stations to popular destinations such as these four centers illustrates the many opportunities we have as a company to incorporate sustainable practices into our day-to-day operations.”
Terry O’Day, VP of NRG eVgo, adds that the Freedom Station sites at the four centers “have enabled NRG eVgo to become the largest fast-charge network in Orange County, and we continue to grow our comprehensive charging network for electric car drivers in California. Partnering with Simon on these Freedom Station sites in Orange County also connects San Diego to Los Angeles and Ventura along the NRG eVgo network, making it even easier for Californians to choose an electric car for their next purchase.”
eVgo is building electric-vehicle charging networks across the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, Los Angeles Basin and the San Diego area. As more Freedom Station sites are built ant the network is established, EV drivers will have access to hundreds of public fast-charging sites along with Level 2 charging stations at homes, offices, multifamily communities, schools and hospitals across California.
The addition of these sites at retail centers follows the theme of customer-service provision that has become pervasive throughout the retail sector. As John Miller, founder and CEO of developer DJM Capital Partners, recently told GlobeSt.com, “It used to be a good sub-anchor was enough to drive customers to a center, but if that’s your strategy today, you’re doomed to fail because customers can go online to buy most products. You’re trying to create something outside of the real of the typical retail experience.”