Electric Vehicles Charged Up
While EVs (electric vehicles) may not be the norm in every garage, they are continuing to gain market traction. As the market for EVs matures, the need for associated services will grow as well, especially when it comes to charging infrastructure.
Between 2011 and 2015, around 410,000 plug-in electric vehicles will be sold in the U.S., according to Pike Research, www.pikeresearch.com. However, the analyst firm also says sales are expected to increase strongly during the second half of the decade, reaching the 1 million mark in 2018. Globally, Pike says plug-in EV sales should surpass 1 million vehicles annually in 2017. By 2020, worldwide sales volumes will reach 1.7 million units per year.
When thinking about purchasing an EV, a major question is always, “Where will I charge it?” Early in 2012, one EV charging provider, Car Charging Group, www.carcharging.com, announced a planned expansion in Europe, based on a $1 million investment.
Recently Coulomb Technologies, www.chargepoint.com, announced the release of an updated platform for EV drivers and charging station owners. Called ChargePoint 4.0, the platform is targeted at employers, retailers, hotels, municipalities, parking services, multiple dwelling units, fleets, and utility companies. In short, it could be used wherever people are likely to gather with their cars and perhaps find themselves in need of a charge.
Having EV charging available could also increase the traffic at a business that provides the service. This is likely the idea at work at retailers such as Walgreens and Whole Foods, both of which have begun providing EV charging at selected stores.
ChargePoint’s updated platform features a new interface and Website, where station owners can access station data and metrics. They can view personal, organization, and network-wide statistics, as well as data on recent usage. Other information available to users includes realtime availability of stations and realtime charging data for public or home chargers.
For retailers, ChargePoint says the platform will allow them to send special offers, messages, and discounts to customers via email, text message, or mobile alerts. Advanced analytics will provide metrics on station occupancy and energy consumption, including parameters such as peak power usage statistics and station revenue.
The new platform is scheduled to go live in September. The market will likely see more charging networks coming online as well, especially if EV sales meet analyst expectations during the coming years.