With the aid of a Macomb Township company, The Mall at Partridge Creek became the first regional shopping center in the state to offer electric vehicle charging stations to customers one year ago.
This month, responding to an ever-increasing customer demand, the mall moved to retrofit the units for easier use.
"We have been pleasantly surprised by the number of uses today," said Seok Chung, marketing and sponsorship director for Partridge Creek. Chung estimates more than 20 cars use the stations every week, which is nearly five times as many cars as originally predicted.
Installed by CarPlug, a division of the Macomb Township-based LaBelle Electric, the two Level 2 Eaton charging stations are located in the lot across from Brio Tuscan Grille.
Offering a 240-volt charge, these stations promise to charge customers’ electric vehicles in less than half of the time compared to using a standard 110/120V electrical outlet. The 240-volt charge can fully charge a vehicle in just four hours.
Use of the chargers has been free to Partridge Creek customers since the installation in 2011.
At that time, the mall ordered 100 complimentary charging station swipe cards that allow users to activate the stations without having to contact customer service.
"We ordered 100 cards thinking that they would last us for at least a year," Chung said. "We guessed wrong and the last card was given away about a month after we started distribution."
Due to the popularity of the units, Chung said the mall has since retrofitted the charging stations to allow users to activate them without swipe cards. With the retrofit completed just this week, customers are now able to pull into the space, plug in and charge without the use of a card or calling security.
Chris LaBelle, president of LaBelle Electric, predicted this increase in demand for electric vehicles more than a year ago.
“As the technology of batteries continues to increase, more and more people will find it makes sense and it is a pretty efficient way to drive the short commute to and from work, or if you are the wife that is lucky enough to stay at home, to drive kids around,” LaBelle told Patch. “If you’re planning to stay within a certain radius, it makes a lot of sense.”