Car-Charging Start-Up Sparks Interest

June 17, 2009

From Elon Musk to Bob Lutz, many folks are amped about electric vehicles. Unfortunately, there are still lots of hurdles preventing EVs from becoming attractive to mainstream consumers. Not least among those hurdles: the little matter of charging batteries.

Prepping America--or any country--for roadways full of electric vehicles will require extensive infrastructure development. Plug-in technology helps speed things along by allowing drivers to juice-up in the privacy of their own homes. But what about folks living in New York, San Francisco, and other heavily urban areas who have to park on the street?

Over the years, TCC has mentioned several start-ups hoping to address this problem. Some have been radical, like Shai Agassi's Better Place, which skips the plug altogether and exchanges the entire battery pack. However, unless every EV is built to accommodate such plug-and-play service, such systems will leave some drivers on the side of the road.

Enter Coulomb Technologies, a start up from--yes--Silicon Valley. They've developed a series of low-cost charge points that can be deployed by fledgling infrastructure barons at $2,500 - $4,000 a pop. Through a web interface, drivers can find nearby charge points and, if we understand correctly, reserve a charge time. (The charge time seems to run between six and ten hours.)

Check out Coulomb's CEO Richard Lowenthal in the video above explaining more of the particulars in the first minute and a half or so. The company's already received orders from Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York, plus Germany and Holland, so who knows--maybe it'll fly. Heck, somebody's gotta charge up the Chevy Volt*.

* Volt fans, please note: we're not implying that the Volt requires special charging stations or anything fancy-schmancy. Coulomb's products offer run-of-the-mill 110- and 220-volt options. You'll probably charge your Volt in the garage or something, but for parallel-parkers, these might come in handy. Mmm-kay?


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