Green

McDonald’s attempts to go green with help from EV charging co. Coulomb

McDonalds LogoMcDonald’s — battered by almost constant criticism of its negative nutritional and environmental impacts — is attempting to turn the tide by opening its first “green” restaurant. Built with sustainable materials and integrating eco-friendly technology, this one McDonald’s will notably include electric car charging stations provided by Campbell, Calif.-based (and Better Place competitor) Coulomb Technologies.

EV charging and the fast food chain may seem like an odd combination — after all, it hasn’t introduced gas pumps to its locations. Regardless, the new restaurant’s owner says he wants to outfit the building with as much cutting-edge cleantech as possible, including dedicated parking spots where customers can charge their vehicles’ batteries while they eat. To make this possible, McDonald’s is partnering not just with Coulomb — maker of ChargePoint Networked charging stations — but also NovaCharge, the stations’ primary distributor and installer.

Located in Cary, N.C., this pilot “green” McDonald’s is scheduled to open its doors on July 14. The ChargePoint stations — unique in that users begin charging by swiping a “ChargePoint Smart Card” after plugging in their cars — are networked, allowing for quick and secure transactions, the company says. This service is very similar to that of charging station rival Better Place. The biggest difference between the two companies is that Better Place is also focusing on a battery-swapping strategy, which would allow drivers to swap out depleted batteries for full ones for a fee at certain locations. McDonald’s has not explained its decision to go with Coulomb in any detail.

With 30,000 restaurants serving millions of customers around the world, McDonald’s claims its participation in the EV space could help make plug-in electric cars and their requisite infrastructure more commonplace — lowering the barrier to mainstream adoption. Still, with relatively few plug-in electric vehicles on the road today, this technology will be far from typical for quite some time yet. Not to mention that there might be some correlation between EV drivers and health-conscious eaters (not to generalize, of course). So if anything, McDonald’s move is a symbolic gesture that could score marketing points if spun properly.

No financial terms of the deal between Coulomb and McDonald’s have been released. The charging station company raised $3.75 million in capital from Estag Capital back in January.