The new McDonald's opens Tuesday with two battery charging units for patrons of the restaurant or the nearby shopping center to use free of charge.
McDonald's said it will add charging stations to parking lots at some of its restaurants across the country if the Cary venture proves successful.
"This new Cary location will help us evaluate the tactics of green building," said McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud. The McDonald's stations will be among the first public car chargers in the state.
NovaCharge, the Florida-based distributor of the ChargePoint stations, says the McDonald's chargers are a new option for electric car owners who now mostly charge at home.
"The typical electric car is going to go about 40 miles on a charge," said Helda Rodriguez, president of NovaCharge. Public charging stations help eliminate "range anxiety" for electric car owners who are afraid of running out of juice while on errands or sitting in traffic.
The units are manufactured by Coulomb Technologies and cost about $5,000 a piece. NovaCharge says it has distributed hundreds of units in the U.S.
Advocates argue electricity is cleaner, cheaper and a more secure source of energy for cars than oil since it can be produced domestically. But the numbers haven't caught up with the buzz.
"Right now there are under 1,000 all-electric cars in the U.S.," said Felix Kramer, the founder of CalCars.org, a California-based nonprofit.
So who's going to top-off their battery at the Cary McDonald's?
Peter Eckhoff, president of the Triangle Electric Auto Association, estimates there are only "several dozen" electric cars in the Triangle region.
He said McDonald's plan is "farsighted" but on the cutting edge: "As demand grows, the chargers will be there."