ECOtality unveiled its flagship electric vehicle charging stations: Blink. The first truly smart chargers to hit the market, the Blink Level 2 charging stations will be available in two models-one, an in-home residential wall-mount unit and the second, a commercial stand-alone charger. They are designed to be the centerpiece of the rich EV charging infrastructure system that will pave the way to long-term success in the adoption of electric vehicles in the United States and around the world.
"Blink is more than a place to plug in a car-it is the fulcrum between the driver, car, home and utility. This high level of interactivity built into our system sets Blink chargers apart from anything else on the market and is key to driving consumer EV adoption," said Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOtality. "Never before has consumer demand been so high and the market potential so large for EVs. By introducing a charger that is simply smarter and really connected, ECOtality and our partners are setting a new industry standard."
ECOtality worked with global innovation firm frog design to set a new precedent for electric vehicle chargers.
"We are thrilled to partner with ECOtality to design and bring to market the Blink family of EV chargers," said Paul Bradley, executive creative director for frog design. "Blink adds a human touch to complex technology. The design has a familiar graphic and functional simplicity that will help to integrate electric vehicles into consumers' lives, and represents a new icon for a smart EV ecosystem."
The chargers offer significant improvements over previous charging stations and are well positioned in a market that is expected to grow to $1.5 billion by 2015, according to a recent Pike Research report on the electric vehicle equipment supply industry. Blink's robust, interactive, networked platform communicates directly with the major stakeholders in EV adoption: consumers, utilities and points of installation, such as retailers. Additionally, the chargers work in conjunction with smart grid systems, and their integrated communication capabilities will be a key part of utilities' demand response solution.
The first Blink charging stations will be installed in Fall 2010 as part of The EV Project. As project manager of The EV Project, ECOtality will deploy nearly 15,000 charging stations in 16 cities across six U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia. The $230 million public-private initiative is funded in part with a $114.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
"We're at a pivotal point propelled by large government investment in The EV Project and unparalleled consumer demand. We're drawing on our years of experience to provide a product that exceeds consumer expectations and facilitates widespread adoption of electric driving," said ECOtality North America President Don Karner. "We've taken the lessons learned from our over two decades of electric vehicle infrastructure experience and applied them to create a charging infrastructure network that emphasizes station location, charger communication and user experience. Blink solves the issues targeting key transportation corridors, overcoming consumer concerns."
Charging Your EV at Home
Blink was designed to emulate drivers' habits and integrate seamlessly into their lifestyle. Drivers will pull up to their home, garage or carport, plug in their car-and walk away. The Blink Level 2 charger delivers a full charge in two to six hours, can be programmed to charge the car when electricity rates are the lowest, and will link to participating utilities and be controlled remotely through smart phone and web applications.
Charging Your EV on the Go
Just as Blink home chargers were designed to integrate easily with drivers' existing lifestyles, an extensive amount of consumer behavior analysis and market research guided both the design and location decisions for the commercial chargers. EV drivers will simply travel to their normal destinations-movie theaters, shopping malls, coffee shops and retailers-pull up and charge.
The Blink system is fully interactive with color touch screens delivering information, thirdparty media and connectivity to network headquarters. Through its ability to operate a national network, as well as enterprise networks, Blink will provide an array of applications for monetization of the charging space for host and network operator alike.