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Motor City getting in on electric fever

Coulomb Technologies installs free public electric-charging station in downtown Detroit as part of ChargePoint America program to encourage EV adoption.

Coulomb ChargePoint America station
Coulomb's ChargePoint stations unlock for use when presented with a smart card or key fob recognized by the station's RFID reader. Coulomb Technologies

Coulomb Technologies unveiled its latest electric-vehicle charging station on Thursday morning in Detroit.

The Motor City is the first locale in Michigan to get a charging station for public use as part of ChargePoint America, a $37 million program to install public and residential stations throughout the U.S. to encourage adoption of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

ChargePoint is funded in part by U.S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Automakers Ford Motor, General Motors, and Smart USA are also partners on the project. The automakers have a vested interest in making charging stations publicly accessible--they're all pushing to sell their newly introduced plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars to the American public.

The first Detroit station is located downtown at the headquarters of NextEnergy, a nonprofit company that facilitates and brokers technology-sharing research projects and deals between academic, government, and corporate entities.Any interested company or municipality in the country may apply to be considered for a charging station for their property. Who gets one depends on whether the site fits several criteria in keeping with the program's goal of encouraging EV adoption.

"The objective is to get highly visible, publically accessible, geographically dispersed locations from which we can provide the DOE and our automobile partners a lot of data on the usage of these charging stations," according to ChargePoint.

Coulomb has been installing charging stations throughout the U.S. in places including Orlando, Fla., San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City, with thousands more planned in the coming year. A total of 4,600 electric-vehicle charging stations throughout nine regions of the U.S. are to be installed, along with a number of charging stations going into the homes of plug-in hybrid or EV owners.