Coulomb’s cloud service for electric vehicle chargers

Coulomb Technologies, creator of the ChargePoint Network, announced that it will be providing a cloud based service for electric vehicle charging station managers.  The service, being launched at Plug-In 2011, will allow charging station operations granular control over measurement, management, and billing services. In addition to station management services, Coulomb will be providing driver services including 24/7 driver support, billing options and mobile phone applications that allow drivers to locate and check availability of charging stations.

From the press release:

Pasquale (Pat) Romano President and Chief Executive Officer

“The ChargePoint service plans are groundbreaking for the electric vehicle market, as they provide the missing ingredient needed to obtain a rapid scaling of feature-rich charging infrastructure,” said Pat Romano, president and CEO of Coulomb Technologies.  “We provide simple-to-deploy service plans that enable operators to measure, manage and profitably recoup the cost of the charging station operations, including the cost of electricity, capital and maintenance.”

From the blog post:

“The ChargePoint service plans provide a rapid way for station owners to get their charging station operations deployed.  The new family of cloud-based services includes a plan tailored for each of the following segments:

  • Employers who want to provide a unique, tangible and high-value benefit to employees while also making a significant and measurable contribution to air quality and to the community: Employers such as Google and SAP can now control station access for their employees, track the success of sustainability initiatives including greenhouse gas and gasoline avoidance, and decide whether and what drivers will be charged without having to be involved in the transaction processing or billing.
  • Businesses that want to attract EV drivers, provide a unique service to their customers, and enhance their reputation as a steward of the environment: Commercial businesses, including Starwood Resorts and Buffalo Wild Wings can now: attract new customers from the world’s largest network of EV drivers; provide flexible payment options and the ability to make reservations; and can track customer usage patterns as well as energy use, costs and revenues.
  • Utilities that want to offer charging services in a way that is integrated with existing operations giving them the flexibility to manage the grid: Utilities, including Orlando Utilities Commission and Austin Energy can now manage every aspect of their charging operations and gain visibility into EV driver charging trends.”

Analysis from Gigaom:

“Using the cloud to connect cars and EVs makes sense, as there will continue to be more and more data associated with these essentially extra-large and expensive devices. GM’s electric car, the Volt, has 10 million lines of code and an IP address. Keeping EVs connected to the cloud via wireless networks also could be a valuable tool to fight range anxiety, or the perception that an EV’s battery has limited range and will run out of power, leaving the driver stranded.”

Richard Lowenthal Founder and Chief Technical Officer

Coulomb also introduced an open source protocol for charging system communication last week that will presumably be used in the new cloud service offering. Coulomb Chief Technology officer and founder Richard Lowenthal spoke with SmartGrid Today about the new framework:

“I could see this impacting us on hardware sales,” Lowenthal said.  When asked whether Coulomb with this move was contributing to the commoditization of charging stations, he responded, “We are.  We’ll have to take the risk our hardware team can compete well with other vendors’.  But if we put together standards, the industry will grow, and we’ll be able to compete within it.”

“We are to an extent giving away a competitive advantage, but this bolsters our credibility as a leadership company,” he said.  “We’re not trying to defend our world by locking people into proprietary things.  My role is 50% growing the charging industry and 50% competing within it.  This [protocol] is both.”

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.

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