When GE rolled out its WattStation EV charger two years ago, it promised a new way of pumping energy to electric automobiles. Forget oil-stained gas station corners. The sleek machines would line roads and lots outside malls, offices, hotels and other areas where you actually want to park. “It’s designed as a friendly dispenser of electricity that will be facing you as a user, but in a way that’s very much about service,” said Yves Behar, the machine’s designer. That service has now come online.
GE spent the last two years building a suite of software called WattStation Connect that allows owners manage chargers from their smartphones, monitor energy costs and set prices. Drivers get directions to the nearby chargers, see pricing data, and learn which unit is open. The charging stations plug into the Internet via 3G cellular links, Wi-Fi, or Ethernet.
Charge Me Up: New software and mobile apps let WattStation owners and drivers manage pricing and find open chargers online.
The apps to manage the ecomagination-qualified WattStation will hit Apple and Android mobile app stores in the coming weeks. GE Energy’s Industrial Solutions unit said that it was working with “a well-known online payment company” to give drivers a smooth and secure way to pay for a charge.
Next up? GE Industrial Solutions will work with “key navigation companies” to share WattStation installation and availability data, and push it to built-in car navigation systems.