Coulomb Technologies has launched its first public EV charging stations on its ChargePoint network this week in downtown San Jose CA. The Smartlets, which were announced last summer
at the Plug-In 2008 conference, use a subscription service to allow drivers to park and charge their vehicles. When a driver signs up for the service (currently free after a $9.95 processing fee) they receive a smart card. Waving the card in front of the Smartlet unlocks the door and gives access to a plug. After plugging in, the door locks again until the driver is ready to leave (see more details here
). The Smartlet is connected to a network and sends the subscriber data to Coulomb's servers for verification and then charges the subscriber's account. Eventually Coulomb will be offering several plans on its ChargePoint network, much like different cellular plans. Currently, there are three ChargePoint Smartlets located near the San Jose State University campus, but ChargePoint is negotiating with several other cities to install its system. If you live in San Jose and have a plug-in vehicle you can sign up at mychargepoint.net
and use the system for yourself. The website lets subscribers find Smartlets in their area and will even tell them if they are available or occupied.