Ecotality in talks with Big Auto, CEO says

Electric-charging station manufacturer tells investors that it's been approached by almost every major auto manufacturer.

Ecotality is in talks with leading automakers--not only Nissan--concerning its electric charging stations for highway-legal electric cars, according to CEO Jonathan Read.

"We have been contacted by every major automaker about electric vehicle systems relating to charging and infrastructure. We expect to convert these discussions into firm contracts," Read told investors Wednesday at a shareholders' conference that was open to the press.

The Arizona-based company recently announced a partnership with Nissan and the local governments in the Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., areas to build charging stations for electric cars that would cover the regions and the 116-mile stretch between them to make an electric vehicle corridor.

Ecotality's CEO Jonathan Read Ecotality

Read told CNET News at the time that while Nissan's electric vehicles (or EVs) will be the first ones commercially available in the area, Ecotality's charging stations will be built to Society of Automotive Engineers standards so that they'll be compatible with any electric cars built to that standard.

In addition to the going after Big Auto, Read told investors the company has applied for Department of Energy loan packages to expand its manufacturing and for other loans and grants from the federal government. It has also bid on contracts in both the public and private sectors.

"We're building a strong position to benefit from the new stimulus program. Many companies are planning for the launch of their EVs, and we've responded to proposals. We have applied or are in the process of applying for about $1.5 billion in contracts through private and government programs. Obviously, receipt of any of these contracts would drastically change the dynamic of our company," said Read.

Ecotality and subsidiary eTec have been in the battery-charging business for years for light-use utility trucks like ones used at airports or for commercial fleets. And charging stations for the general consumer are not an entirely new foray for the company either. While Delphi was the manufacturer, eTec installed many of the charging stations for General Motors' EV1s of "who killed the electric car?" fame.

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