Editor’s Note: This is a guest contribution by Richard Lowenthal, CEO of electric vehicle ChargePoint manufacturer Coulomb Technologies (ChargePoints pictured above in front of SF City Hall). This post is a followup to last week’s (and ongoing) discussion on EV Charging Infrastructure by Mayors Gavin Newsom and Sam Adams. UPDATE: Listen to Shai Agassi of competitor Better Place on Mayor Newsom’s radio show.
With all of the recent talk about who will become the EV capitol of the US, we would like to point out the obvious: without the necessary charging infrastructure, the cars won’t run.
But what about these charging stations? Won’t any old plug do? The answer is a resounding no. When the EV business becomes big—whether you are in San Francisco or Portland—you are going to need smart features that you can only get with networked charging stations. Those features include:
1. A billing system. This allows stations to be placed curbside, in apartment lots, in condominium lots, in workplace lots and in other places where you park your car for hours. Consider this: When your local ballpark determines it needs 200 spaces capable of charging Tesla Roadsters at full rate, they’re going to need 4 Megawatts of electricity. That will cost the ballpark $400 an hour. They’re not going to give it away.
2. Smart Grid integration. Our electric grid needs to move forward. Forward means the integration of networking into the grid. That allows the utility to charge vehicles when it has an abundance of energy, and especially clean energy. It also allows you to know how much energy you’re using for your car and when, and how much it costs you.
3. High availability. This means that the network, and therefore the utility, station owners, and drivers can find stations that are working and available before they drive there for a charge. And when a station is broken it will be fixed by the network, or service will be dispatched as soon as the problem occurs.
4. User friendly features. These include the ability to find any station worldwide and find out if which ones are available for a charge. Also, notification when your car is fully charged, when it’s overdue for a charge, and when someone unplugs your car and stops it from charging. You will also appreciate reporting features, like knowing how much greenhouse gas you’re saving.
5. Time-of-use rate charging. This allows you to charge your car automatically when it is most economical.
The bottom line for the successful deployment of EV will require smart charging stations, and in order to provide a financial base and a robust feature set, those stations must be based on a networked infrastructure.
Coulomb Technologies was founded in 2007 with the express mission to ensure that anyone who is considering the choice to buy an electric vehicle will have adequate access to fuel for the cars. Visit www.coulombtech.com to learn more about Coulomb’s infrastructure plans and where you can find a local charging station. Keep up with the latest news: Coulomb Technologies on Twitter.