• Jul 13th 2010 at 1:55PM
  • 16
GE WattStation – Click above for high-res image gallery

Out in San Francisco today, GE is unveiling a new smart-grid-connected electric car charger called the WattStation. Designed in part by renowned industrial designer Yves Behar, the WattStation is intended to become a new icon for electric car drivers. The top angled circle is surrounded by LEDs that glow to indicate if the charger is available or not. More interestingly, though, are statements like "GE WattStation significantly decreases time needed for vehicle charging," and this, from the press release:
The GE WattStation on average decreases electric vehicle charging time from 12-18 hours to as little as four to eight hours compared to standard charging "level 1", assuming a full-cycle charge for a 24 kWh battery.
At first glance, that sounds like the WattStation has some sort of fast-charging witchery going on, but really it just means that the WattStation can handle Level 2 (240V) charging.

The WattStation was brought life with the help of Project Get Ready, the non-profit initiative that grew out of Rocky Mountain Institute's (RMI) Smart Garage Summit. It also can connect to the smart grid and allow utilities to manage and understand vehicle charging impacts. The GE WattStation will be commercially available globally in 2011, and a home version will be unveiled later this year. There's a video of Behar talking about the WattStation after the jump.


[Source: GE]




PRESS RELEASE

GE Introduces Smart Grid-Compatible Electric Vehicle Charger

* GE WattStation™ is an easy-to-use electric vehicle charger designed by renowned industrial designer Yves Behar
* Will help utility companies manage electricity demand, expanding consumer access to electric vehicle charging stations
* Significantly decreases time required for full car charging

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, July 13, 2010 – GE (NYSE: GE) today introduced the GE WattStation, an easy-to-use electric vehicle (EV) charger. Designed to help accelerate the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles, GE WattStation significantly decreases time needed for vehicle charging and, using smart grid technology, allows utility companies to manage the impact of electric vehicles on the local and regional grids.

Steve Fludder, vice president of GE ecomagination, said, "Widespread electric vehicle adoption depends on having charging stations that integrate the need for quick charging with the personal need for easy functionality. GE WattStation will meet this challenge."

Combining functionality with consumer friendly form from renowned industrial designer Yves Behar, the GE WattStation on average decreases electric vehicle charging time from 12-18 hours to as little as four to eight hours compared to standard charging "level 1", assuming a full-cycle charge for a 24 kWh battery.

"Good design is when a new technology enters our life and makes it simpler, beautiful and healthy" said Yves Behar, founder of fuseproject. "The GE WattStation achieves this with a welcoming design that is seamlessly integrated in the urban landscape and becomes a natural part of our daily driving routine"

Dan Heintzelman, president & CEO GE Energy Services, said, "For more than 100 years GE has worked to optimize energy use. Given our expertise in electrical distribution, WattStation is a natural progression in our commitment to creating cutting edge innovation for the next century."

GE WattStation will be commercially available globally in 2011. GE will unveil a specialized home version of the charger later this year.

In addition to the GE WattStation, GE recently announced two new partnerships to advance electric vehicle adoption. In April 2010, Project Get Ready, a non-profit initiative led by Rocky Mountain Institute to help communities prepare for electric vehicles, named GE a technical advisor focusing on design and planning of the local and regional electric grids for electric vehicles.

In May 2010, GE Global Research and Nissan signed a separate three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore new technologies that are needed to build a reliable, dynamic smart-charging infrastructure.

For more information on GE WattStation, including preorder details, please visit www.ecomagination.com/wattstation
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  • 16 Comments
      • 8 Months Ago
      interesting shadow directions, look at the plant pots on the left.....
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'm excited that GE is getting into the charging station business - GE has an interest in manufacturing products at a price point where they can sell in large quantities. This should make such charging stations more ubiquitous and affordable. I see they're planning on making these in both public and home versions.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Any Level 2 charge station will be capable of 6.6 kW charging, although the early comment about Nissan's Leaf initially coming out with only 3.3 kW capability is correct. This means the early Leafs will charge at a slower rate. Not a biggie for most people, but some will want to upgrade once they switch to 6.6 kW in 2012 in the Smyrna TN plant.

      Having GE in the game is indeed a good thing. There are at least ten companies building Lever 2 EV Service Equipment. Millions in federal and state money will kick off the network of charge stations, but private capital will take over after the first couple of years.

      I've been driving an EV for almost 8 years and find that I shop at the stores that have chargers. My grocery store, coffee shop, shopping mall and movie theater. They give me a few free kWh and I spend my money buying their products. It's like a coupon.

      While I charge mostly from home, it's nice knowing there is a growing charging infrastructure that will expand my range.

      • 8 Months Ago
      Ugh. I don't want one of those on my street, thanks.
      • 8 Months Ago
      According to the electric car skeptics, the charger will send a signal to the power grid causing all power sources except coal to go offline until the charging is completed.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Behind Yves Behar is his a green and white One Laptop Per Child kid's computer, a fantastic design whose wireless ears also lock the display closed.

      * GE doesn't mention the current, and thus power, capability. The initial Nissan Leaf only takes 14 A (3.3 kW), while the Tesla Roadster can handle 70A (16.8 kW).
      * GE's factsheet talks about "Commerce and card reader capability", but oops there's no slot for a card reader in the photochop.
      * The fat base means people can't lock a bike to it, maybe that's intentional.
      * It's much fancier than Coulomb Technology's ribbed aluminum box with vacuum display.
      * The big ring of color-changing LEDs around the rim is nice, but there are going to be web apps that tell you where the nearest available working charging stations are.
      * Likewise, although the "Hello" display can show you what your car has shared with the charging station over SAE J1772, your car can provide more info to your smartphone app.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @john,
        Thanks, now I see the smiley line in some of the renderings.

        It's unclear if each charging station needs a "swipe" card reader. Coulomb Technologies doesn't have one in its boxes:
        "Drivers can access a ChargePoint Networked Charging Station by:
        • Paying for a single charging session by placing a toll free call to the 24/7 telephone number.
        • Becoming a member of the ChargePoint Network by choosing a monthly subscription plan to fit their lifestyle.
        • Paying via a smart (RFID) credit/debit card (future)
        • Paying via standard credit or debit cards at Remote Payment Stations (RPSs) (future)."

        GE is partnering with a different company, Juice Technologies ( http://earth2tech.com/2010/07/13/the-details-behind-ges-wattstation-electric-car-charger/ ), for its Smart Grid network mulbi-buzzword software.
        • 8 Months Ago
        If I may correct you regarding the card slot, it is visible just below the screen on the picture on their website.
      • 8 Months Ago
      That looks like England, judging from the cars and houses. Can't imagine the nimby's of rural england accepting this
      • 8 Months Ago
      I figured they'd have called it the Edison, then made it incompatible with the Tesla.

      • 8 Months Ago
      The photoshoped image above looks appalling, their representation fails to mention that the historic brick sidewalk will need to be torn out to run power lines to the charge stations.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I have seen street chargers that can service 3 or 4 cars (two 220V sockets and two 110V). That should reduce installation costs (it cost ~$8k installed on the street or about $2k per socket, which is what manufacturers are charging for home chargers).
        • 8 Months Ago
        I don't find them any more intrusive than parking meters. I would gladly have those meters replace the parking meters here, especially when you consider the lack of noise and exhaust from the cars parked there. Considering that only relatively new cars with relatively wealthy, environmentally concious (presumably less likely to litter) owners will be using those spaces initially, the cars parked there and the people walking to those cars will also improve the appearance of the neighborhood.

        And that picture is obviously of somewhere in Europe, where they still put in new brick sidewalks.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Who cares? it looks so sleek, I love it.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "I don't find them any more intrusive than parking meters."

        The neighborhoods I'm referring to don't have/allow parking meters. They are residential districts, with stickers to denote residents who are allowed to park there. (non-residents get a two-hour allowance free, while residents can park as long as they want)

        It's not like it would be difficult to design a less obvious charger. As pointed out, charger location/status would be indicated by the car itself, so there's absolutely no need for the charger to be visible above the curb.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Sidewalk chargers that are that obvious will *never* get approval in the city where I live. A more discreet version would be called for.

        Why not mount it flush to the sidewalk?
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