GE charges up its WattStation with a fully networked platform

GE charges up its WattStation with a fully networked platform

With its stylish, pedestal design, GE Energy's WattStation electric-vehicle charger is finally ready to roll to the masses.

Originally conceived and constructed by Yves Behar in 2010, the new WattStation -- unveiled this week -- is debuting with an integrated software platform for EV drivers, fleet managers and commercial station owners.

Owners of the GE WattStation system will have the ability to control and set customer pricing, generate usage reports and remotely manage EV charging stations. The software platform, WattStation Connect, also gives commercial building owners options to provide access to EV stations at their facilities with RFID settings.

EV owners can download a free, mobile app to locate WattStations, check availability, make payments and monitor the status of the charge while their vehicle is charging. WattStation Connect is expected to be available for iOS and Android devices in the next couple of weeks.

WattStation's sleek design includes a retractable cord system and QR code on the front that to be scanned by a smartphone equipped with the Wattstation Connect app. Communicating via cellular 3G, Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections, the charging stations can be installed in any commercial, public or retail location and can fully charge all major EVs on the market in four to eight hours, GE Energy says.

The company teamed up with Hertz to develop the WattStation Connect platform. "As a global leader in offering electric vehicles around the world, [Hertz] had specific requirements for their fleet needs," said Chris Bowler, general manager of marketing for GE Energy Industrial Solutions in North America. GE Energy captured data for analytical purposes and tailored a software solution for the company's electric car fleet.

Bowler foresees hotels, hospitals and commercial property owners as additional target markets, with proposed monthly fees of $10-$20 per station. GE plans to start shipping charging stations in the next six weeks.

GE Energy Industrial Solutions is one player in an increasingly crowded market offering EV charging stations including infrastructure stalwarts such as Eaton, Schneider Electric and Siemens.

Last December, GE Energy Industrial Soutions began selling a residential, wall-mounted EV charger on Amazon.com while also making it available in retail outlets such as Lowe's, Best Buy and Home Depot.

With more and more charging stations in place, a key industry group has taken a first step in developing a standards roadmap to boost EV adoption. This week, the American National Standards Institute issued a version 1.0 document to tackle technical issues and identify gaps to help manufacturers prepare for a mass-market rollout of EVs.

The guidelines call for a “voluntary consensus” to encourage automakers, technology companies, utilities and battery manufacturers to develop interoperable standards as a means to spur widespread EV adoption for municipal and commercial fleet owners.

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