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Grocery chain goes green

Mollie Stone’s installs electric car charging stations at Sausalito store

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Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 3:29 pm | Updated: 3:36 pm, Wed Feb 13, 2013.

A local grocery chain is installing electric vehicle charging stations at its Bay Area stores, as it looks to change what it means to be a “green grocer.”

Mollie Stone’s Markets founder Mike Stone unveiled the new charging station at its Harbor Drive store in Sausalito last week. Electric charging stations are also planned for stores in Palo Alto and Burlingame.

“We are the first grocery store in the Bay Area to have a charging station for its customers,” Stone said at the unveiling. “Hopefully over the years there will be a lot more.”

Stone said the number of electric cars registered in Marin has doubled in the last six months, however one of the biggest problems is being able to charge the vehicles.

“We are very proud to be on that cutting edge,” Stone said. “All the people that work for Mollie Stone’s are working towards being a greener company to be able to say we are a green grocer now.”

Store officials said they are reducing emissions while providing a free service to customers. Electric vehicle drivers can charge their cars for free for one hour at the Sausalito store.

“Hopefully, while people are charging their cars, people can go to the post office or shop at Mollie Stone’s,” Stone said.

The store partnered with Campbell based ChargePoint, a network of independent charging stations. The ChargePoint also has a mobile application to locate nearby charging stations or plan stops along a trip. The charging station at the store can charge two electric vehicles at the same time.

ChargePoint Vice President Mike DiNucci said the growth of charging stations and electric cars is meteoric in the Bay Area and charging stations are a great way to attract customers to businesses.

“Marin is a very green community, but there is not a ton of charging stations in the area,” DiNucci said in Sausalito last Thursday. “The average EV driver is 45-years-old, college educated, making $160,000 a year. This is the kind of person you want in your store shopping.”

One of the ideas behind public charging stations is eliminating “range anxiety” a driver’s fear of running out of power before getting home. It is one of the biggest hurdles car manufacturers point to in consumers’ wariness of electric vehicles.

Kim Kinoshita secretary of the San Francisco BayLEAFs, an electric vehicle enthusiasts group, said one of the problems with electric cars is the short range. Kinoshita installed a digital display in his car to show battery capacity of his Nissan Leaf as a percentage, as well as other modifications to improve the efficiency of the car.

“So people are concerned about the range. This car does not have a very good fuel gauge,” Kinoshita said after the event. “You have 12 bars and they keep dropping down as you drive just like a fuel tank. But they are so coarse in terms of predicting the capacity that I’ve installed a digital readout.”

Kinoshita’s wife Shirley said many members of the car group are long-time electric vehicle enthusiasts who used to modify regular cars and changed them to be all-electric.

“They are kind of like nerdy techy types who share their modifications,” she said. “This is the first generation so there are some quirky things about the car. So they modified to make them better for everybody.”

Mollie Stone’s Market has store locations in Burlingame, Greenbrae, Palo Alto, San Bruno, San Mateo, Sausalito and San Francisco. Visit chargepoint.com for more information about the ChargePoint network.

Contact Soren Hemmila at shemmila@marinscope.com.

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