America’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure took another step forward today when Coloumb Technologies and three automakers said they will give away — as in free — 4,600 charging stations.
The Silicon Valley company is working with Ford, General Motors and Smart to provide home and public ChargePoint Network stations to people in nine metropolitan areas. Coulomb begins rolling out the stations this fall to coincide with the release of the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric vehicle and Ford Transit Connect EV delivery van.
Most of the major automakers are working on cars with cords and the first of them will be in showrooms by the end of the year. The big question is where we’re supposed to charge the cars when we aren’t at home or if we live in an apartment or other dwelling where access to a wall socket isn’t possible. The question is all the more pressing considering the Obama Administration has made EVs a big priority.
The $37 million ChargePoint America program is being funded in part by a $15 million grant the Department of Energy issued through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act — aka the stimulus package. The ChargePoint program joins a $99.8 million effort, led by Nissan and Ecotality with help from the feds, to bring 11,200 chargers to five states.
“The Obama Administration has set significant and considerable goals for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the coming years,” said Richard Lowenthal, Coulomb’s CEO. “These charging stations will build upon our already growing and established network of infrastructure and will accelerate the deployment of public and private charging infrastructure, which will in turn encourage people to buy electric vehicles.”
The free chargers are slated for Austin, Texas; Detroit; Los Angeles; New York; Orlando, Florida; Sacramento, California; the San Francisco Bay Area; Redmond, Washington; and Washington D.C.. All of the chargers are Level 2 (220 volt) units. Coulomb says about half of them will be installed at curbside locations and other public places. The remainder will be given to consumers who buy an electric vehicle from Ford, General Motors or Smart, which will roll out a demonstration test fleet of Smart Electric Drive vehicles this fall.
The company plans to install 1,000 chargers by the end of the year and roll out the rest by the end of 2011. Permitting can be a hassle — something BMW discovered during its field test of several hundred Mini-E electrics — so Coulomb is working with cities involved in the program to clear as much red tape as possible. By the way, the chargers are free but those receiving them have to pay for the installation.
Coulomb installed 700 ChargePoint networked charging stations last year and recently announced it will bring the technology to Poland and Australia. It also has fledgling programs in China, which recently announced it will subsidize the purchase of EVs and hybrids.
ChargePoint stations are network-capable and can be configured to track energy usage and other information. The also can be configured to bill users so businesses can recoup energy and maintenance costs if they provide public charging. Coulomb, founded in 2007, raised $14 million during its second-round venture funding this year. It expects its sales to increase dramatically in 2010 as electric vehicles are introduced worldwide.
Individuals interested in a charger can sign up here. Businesses sign up here. You also can suggest locations for public charging stations.
Photo of the Ford Transit Connect EV being charged in San Francisco: Jim Merithew / Wired.com
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