Mad Max, meet the Jetsons. Imagine pulling your electric car into a charging station not worrying about the dozen or so gallons of gas being poured into the back of your car. Imagine there being enough of these charging stations that you need not worry about losing your charge while cruising down an interstate, miles beyond your car’s range.
Well, imagine no more. Northern California-based Coulomb Technologies has announced its plan to install almost 5,000 stations across the U.S. by next year. Yes, 5,000! Being partly supported by the US Department of Energy and Ford Motor Company, these stations will be placed in nine metropolitan areas throughout the country. The company’s branded Smartlet stations are targeted to parking lot owners and municipalities and can be installed in numerous areas like apartment and workplace parking lots and along public streets. The stations are linked together on a network and are tied into municipal electrical grids; drivers pay for access to this power through memberships and by simply swiping a card.
And it looks like everyone wants a piece of the action. In a time when petro companies are preoccupied with scooping oil off of the waters of the Gulf, major entities are realizing the win-win situation with these new electric stations. For cities, it offers an opportunity to create an eco-friendly image and promote their towns to potential movers and to grow as an eco-conscience municipality. Utilities look at this as a means to boost revenue and differentiate themselves from not so eager utility companies of their sector. And automobile companies also get a publicity boost as they shift to more energy efficient vehicles and charge ahead.
In fact, Ford Motor Company is partnering with Coulomb Technologies to provide nearly 4,600 free in-home charging stations for some of the first electric vehicle customers. Under the Ford Blue Oval ChargePoint Program, residents in Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Sacramento, the San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area, Redmond, Wash., and Washington D.C. could receive a free ChargePoint Networked Charging Station with the purchase of a Ford Transit Connect Electric vehicle.
“ChargePoint America builds upon our established and growing network of charging stations and will in turn encourage consumers to buy electric vehicles,” said Richard Lowenthal, CEO of Coulomb Technologies. “Our Department of Energy grant was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus bill, to provide jobs for Americans. Our products are built and installed with American labor. Every time we ship a ChargePoint charging station, three Americans go to work for a day.”
And Ford isn’t the only one stepping up to pay the bill. Nissan Motor Co. is creating relationships with municipalities and utilities along with the Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation to put in over 11,000 stations throughout the U.S. in part due to a $100 million dollar subsidy from the U.S. Department of Energy.
With over 120,000 gas stations in the U.S. currently and our infatuation with SUVs, this may seem like a daunting task. But with buy-in and an alliance being formed between big money automobile companies and the ever-so bureaucratic municipalities and utilities, we may be on to something electrifying and “beyond thunderdome.”