Although his Timonium store just opened over the Memorial Day weekend, Scott Nash, owner of Mom's Organic Market, is thinking way into the future with one of the store's features.
Nash, whose stores cater to the organic food market across Maryland and Virginia, has installed the area's only car-charging station at his store at 20 W. Ridgely Road.
"We're an extremely environmental company, and our customers are as well," Nash said. "They're probably more likely to buy electric cars than any other retailer's customers."
Nash said he's getting in on the bottom floor of what he believes to be a booming market, even if existing stations at his locations in Timonium and College Park are not often used.
Charis Smith, a research associate with Mom's, said that now that word is getting out about the chargers, usage has been growing slightly.
Between the four chargers at the College Park and Timonium stores, the chargers have been used for 42 hours total.
Despite the low usage, though, Nash has no qualms with the costs associated with the chargers, which are available free of charge to users. Customers need only a credit card to unlock the charger, then again to end each session.
Each charger costs $8,000 to install, but Nash said it was effectively a buy-one, get-one free deal for the pair of chargers.
And while other stores and companies charge for energy, Nash said a full day of non-stop usage at the stations — which realistically won't happen for a while — wouldn't add more than $10 to the store's electricity bill. That's a cost he'll happily assume for the time being.
"They get some use here and there, but the reason why we have it up so early is because it's like an advertisement for electric cars," Nash said. "Seeing the station might make people think about buying one.
"The charging stations have to go in first, and then the cars get bought, so we're ahead of the curve a little bit," he said. "We think it could explode in the next year or two."
Nash likened the potential growth to that of the Toyota Prius, the first mass-production hybrid vehicle, which was introduced in America in 2001.
Toyota has moved more than two million Priuses worldwide, with half of that total in the United States.
"It came out 10 years ago, and now it's all over the place," he said.
He isn't the only one betting on electric cars to take off.
A recent study commissioned by the philanthropic arm of Google and conducted by McKinsey & Co., a global management and consulting firm, projected that by 2030 the cost of electric vehicles is likely to drop below those of equivalent-sized internal combustion vehicles.
The McKinsey & Co. study also predicts that electric vehicles could capture 90 percent of the light vehicle market by 2030, which would result in a nationwide 1.1 billion barrel-per-year reduction in oil consumption.
Nash, however, is preparing for the electric car boom to come a bit sooner.
So is the state.
According to the Maryland Energy Association, there will be more than 80 charging stations available at 40 locations across the state by the end of this summer. Other than the Mom's location, the only other site in the immediate area is at the White Marsh park-and-ride lot, where the state says five charging stations are in operation.
Nash anticipates that by this time next year, he will have opened his 10th store location, with car-charging stations at all but one or two.
"We're going to have two at every store we can, but I don't think it's going to be enough," Nash said. "Shopping centers are going to need dozens of them."