As project leaders for the public/private EV Project (which has also received a funding injection from the U.S. Department of Energy), it is the responsibility of clean electric transportation and storage technologies experts ECOtality to oversee the installation of thousands of commercial and residential electric vehicle charging stations in various locations throughout the U.S. EV owners visiting select IKEA stores in the Western United States will soon be able to top up while they shop, thanks to a partnership formed between the home furnishing retailer and ECOtality.

A number of stores in Oregon, California, Washington and Arizona are among those currently being considered for the project, which will see at least two Blink EV charging stations installed at each chosen location. Although the program is set to have everything in place by the end of 2012, the first of the charging points could well be up and running later this year.

Founded in 1943 in Sweden, IKEA now has 320 stores in 38 countries, 37 of which are located in the U.S. This project forms part of a wider commitment to a green energy portfolio that includes eight solar installations already in place, with another 12 currently in development, and a new store in Colorado that uses a geothermal energy system.

While IKEA will take care of the preparation of the locations chosen to receive the Blink charging stations, ECOtality will retain responsibility for charger operation once they're are in place.

It's been a busy week for ECOtality - in addition to the IKEA announcement, the company has also joined forces with American Electric Power to install Ohio's first Blink Pedestal EV charger at Walmart /Sam's Club, 3900 Morse Road in Columbus. The Level 2 (240 VAC) chargers feature interactive color touchscreens, and can communicate in real-time with smart grid and energy management systems.

Daimler subsidiary car2go has also teamed up with ECOtality to launch the nation's first all-electric car sharing program. Around 300 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles will begin operation late 2011 in San Diego, and will benefit from a support network of 1,000 Blink charging stations in the region installed as part of the EV Project.

It certainly looks like the U.S. is readying the foundations for an electric transport future. Will you be an early EV adopter, are you waiting for prices to fall or a more widespread support network to appear, or are you a confirmed gas guzzler? Let us know your thoughts via the comments.

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