Coulomb Technologies has announced that it will set up nearly 5,000 electric vehicle charging stations in nine U.S. metropolitan areas: Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Sacramento, San Jose/San Francisco, Redmond, Wash., and Washington, D.C. The $37 million project, drawing on $15 million courtesy of the stimulus bill, will enable cars like the Chevrolet Volt, the Ford Transit Connect Electric, and the Ford Focus Electric to be recharged, using a hose-and-nozzle type plug built to the SAE J1772 standard. Coulomb reports that it provided 700 such stations to 130 customers worldwide in 2009.
The stations also will be able to accommodate the electric version of Daimler's Benz's Smart fortwo. Future cars that are now merely concepts, like the model currently on display at New York City's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum together with the Coulomb charging station, presumably will be accommodated eventually.
The network of stations, known as ChargePoint America, will be available to any plug-in EV driver, at no down payment. Anybody wishing to make use of a station can make a toll-free call from the station to ChargePoint, or sign up in advance for a monthly access plan and get a (trademarked) ChargePass smart card. Businesses wishing to obtain a charging station are invited to visit the ChargePoint America website, where individuals interested in buying plug-in EVs can also obtain information.
Coulomb's direct charging system represents an alternative and a competitor to Better Place's model, being rolled out and tested in Israel and Denmark, in which batteries are traded out at charging stations, saving drivers time.