We have considered for some time the implications of being an apartment dweller and being able to own and drive a Volt. An idea I’ve had is charging meters similar to parking meters. It turns out a Silicon Valley startup called Coulomb has already taken that idea and ran with it, developing a quite interesting model. I had the chance to speak with their VP of business development Mike Harrigan.
Coulomb has developed a charging meter that they call a "smartlet." Users would subscribe to the service and in exchange get a smart card or fob. After parking their Volt near the meter waving the fob would open a chamber. An outlet would be exposed and the user could plug in to charge. The smarlet would be connected to the grid either via 110 or 220 volt lines. It would be able to access the user database and the utility company via a wireless network. The utility company could control flow on a mass scale based on the grids daytime demands.
Mike explains that the smartlet would be configured so the user’s cord could not be removed or stolen or another car be charged from it. There will also be different subscription plans depending whether you wanted to use it during the peak (at work) or at night (in your apartment).
Coloumb would pay rent to parking space owners as well as reimburse them for electric use, their revenue coming mainly from users subscriptions. Mike notes there are only 54 million garages for 247 million US vehicles.
Coloumb is beginning to work with municipalities to begin installations in municipal parking facilities for now, but its easy to see the possibilities are endless.
Full press release below:
COULOMB TECHNOLOGIES ANNOUNCES NEW SMART CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE FOR PLUG-IN VEHICLES
Smart Charging Stations, Payment Subscriptions and Utility Grid Management
Target New Market of Plug-In Vehicles
Campbell, CALIF. – July 21, 2008 Coulomb Technologies today announced a smart charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles. Coulomb has developed a complete solution targeting plug-in vehicles including Extended Range Electric Vehicles, Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles, and Battery Electric Vehicles. Coulomb’s ChargePoint™ Network includes public charging stations, a consumer subscription plan and utility grid management technology for electric utility companies to smooth electrical demands on the grid. The infrastructure solution will be showcased with the Saturn Vue Plug-in Hybrid at the Plug-In 2008 Conference & Exposition July 22-24 in San Jose, Calif. in booth 302.
According to General Motors vice president of global program management, Jon Lauckner “GM is committed to the success of the plug-in vehicles, including Extended Range Electric Vehicles like the future Chevy Volt, and together with infrastructure solutions like that of Coulomb Technologies, we are all moving closer to the commercialization of plug-in vehicles. Intelligent infrastructure technology like Coulomb’s is needed for the rapid adoption of plug-in vehicles and to help address the needs and concerns of drivers, utilities, governments, and parking space owners.”
Coulomb’s ChargePoint Network integrates three unique components into a seamless, scalable, reliable, cost-effective solution. At the edge of the ChargePoint Network are Smartlet™ Charging Stations that are individually controlled through the wireless Smartlet Communications Network and the ChargePoint Network Operating System. Coulomb’s core technology includes the elements required to build and enable a smart charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles.
1. Smartlet Charging Stations: Perform bi-directional energy metering and control, user authentication, and 802.15.4 wireless local area network technology, which enables a subscription model through communication with a data center.
2. Smartlet Communications Network: Provides a high reliability meshed network using 802.15.4 technology and GSM/GRPS technology to communicate with the Network Operating System for user authentication, access control, energy flow control and energy metering.
3. ChargePoint Network Operating System (NOS): Manages the Smartlet Charging Stations through the Smartlet Communications Network. The ChargePoint Network also provides web portals for subscribers, hosts and utilities. Functions include user authentication, access control, energy flow control, location management, utility company policy administration, user portal, host property portal, utility portal and GPS system interface.
“Major automakers have announced delivery of plug-in vehicles to the U.S. marketplace by 2010. But with 54 million garages for the 247 million registered passenger vehicles in the U.S. today, most consumers do not have a way to charge a plug-in vehicle.” said Richard Lowenthal CEO of Coulomb Technologies. “We have developed a scalable, smart charging infrastructure that provides municipalities and parking lot owners a recurring income stream through public charging stations that are easy to install and maintain. Our complete technology solution also provides electric utility companies a means to control the load that plug-in vehicles put on the grid and a means to compute and implement taxes on electricity as a transportation fuel.”
Coulomb Technologies has two inter-related businesses: a product sales business and a service business. Smartlet Charging Stations are sold to municipalities and parking lot owners as capital equipment in a business-to-business model. Charging access is sold to drivers of plug-in vehicles as a subscription service in a business-to-consumer model. Both the Smartlet Charging Stations and ChargePoint Network Operating System will be available in Q4 2008.
“Through an innovative partnership with Coulomb Technologies, San Jose is demonstrating environmental leadership and fostering the growth of our clean tech businesses,” said Mayor Chuck Reed. “Our goal is to be the first city in the United States to demonstrate and offer opportunities for residents to charge electric vehicles from streetlights and other infrastructure. Doing so will help the City meet its Green Vision goals.”
Coulomb Technologies, headquartered in Campbell, California offers a family of products and services that provide a smart charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles. Coulomb’s ChargePoint Network addresses needs of drivers, utilities, governments, and parking space owners. For more information, please visit www.coulombtech.com.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 at 8:45 pm and is filed under Charging. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.