July 30, 2008 The number of electric and hybrid vehicles on the road is growing rapidly in response to rising petrol prices and climate change awareness. As with any alternative to petroleum based transport, the key issue is infrastructure, or lack of it. Already rolling-put in the UK, Elektromotive's solution for drivers of electric cars and motorcycles is an on-street recharging network called “Elektrobay” that allows you to re-charge while away from home.
Elektrobay has been designed as a generic electric vehicle refueling network that looks like a durable piece of street furniture and blends in naturally to the surroundings. The intelligent, open-ended architecture is designed to requires little monitoring, maintenance and running costs.
The secure and user friendly transport systems offers drivers of hybrid and electric plug-in cars a secure, manageable, dedicated power outlet on the street that can be easily integrated into any parking bay. Additionally, new and existing battery technology can be integrated into a network with ease. To access an Elektrobay the user is issued with an electronic tag that communicates wirelessly with the unit. When a valid access tag is presented to the yellow touch point on the Elektrobay, the waterproof access door automatically opens allowing the user to plug their power lead into the socket. 240 volts AC at 13 amps is then delivered to recharge the electric vehicle. The bays also have the ability to be programmed with recharge time limits.
For safety reasons, only those with valid tags are able to open the bays and each is fitted with an active display panel that informs the user of its current status and can be programmed to notify the user when their Elektrobay access is about to expire. It will also show the user‘s name and vehicle registration number.
The system can be specified for use in any country around the world, and currently the covers around 30 locations within the UK, with plans for expansion throughout Europe. As well as government authorities, the system is targeted at companied that want to provide this green service to their staff.
That all sounds fantastic but when we visited the Electrobay folk at the British Motor Show, we were disappointed to learn the the councils have failed to centralize the system, meaning that if you pay the yearly fee required for access in Nottingham, you wont be able to plug-in in Watford. Clearly this is something that needs to be addressed as the grid expands.
Another city “plugging in” is San José in California. Mayor Chuck Reed and Coulomb Technologies CEO Richard Lowenthal recently announced smart charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles, including electric cars and plug-in hybrids. San José residents will be able to charge plug-in vehicles from smart charging stations located on streetlights, curbside and parking lots.