San Francisco will this morning be touting its plans to install electric vehicle charging stations in the city. At 10 a.m., Mayor Gavin Newsom and electric vehicle charging station developer Coulomb Technologies are having a media event at San Francisco City Hall at which they will unveil three electric vehicle charging stations in the city, including charging points for City CarShare and Zipcar plug-in hybrid vehicles. Newsom says in the release that he wants San Francisco to be the “EV Capital of the U.S” (he said the same thing when the Bay Area announced another electric vehicle charging deal with Better Place earlier this year.) (See our live updates from the press conference at the bottom of this post.)
Coulomb’s score in San Francisco comes on the heels of its installation of three electric vehicle stations in San Jose, Calif., last month. In addition, Coulomb said last month that it has raised $3.8 million in its first round of venture capital funding led by Berlin’s Estag Capital.
While the three electric vehicle chargers in San Francisco will be used for a two-year demo, the startup’s business model is based on subscription plans. Prices include a limited-time “Basic Access” subscription offer, which the company says includes free charging through 2009. Then there are several monthly plans, including: $15 per month for 10 night time charging sessions, $30 per month for unlimited night time charging sessions, $20 per month for “grid-friendly” charging sessions, $40 per month for unlimited “grid-friendly” charging sessions, $25 per month for 10 anytime sessions, and $50 per month for unlimited charging at anytime.
While I probably won’t be buying an EV this year, I’m a City CarShare member, and I would definitely pay a bit extra to be able to use an EV in my neighborhood. Update: Zipcar says it will add a plug-in Toyota Prius converted by A123 System’s Hymotion to the San Francisco fleet. CityCarShare says it will use a plug-in Prius that was converted by 3Prong.
Coulomb’s public event leads us to ask, where is Better Place, which announced a deal with the state of California and the city of San Francisco in just November? That event also took place at City Hall and featured Mayor Newsom. Better Place has previously said that Bay Area network planning and permitting would start as soon as January 2009, and infrastructure deployment could begin in 2010. A Better Place spokesperson tells us this morning that the company had staff from Mayor Newsom’s office and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s office at its headquarters last week, taking a test drive of the Better Place eRogue and reviewing its charging spots and software.
Update, Notes on Press Conference: Newsom notes that there have been some failed attempts at alternative vehicles before — the missing hydrogen highway, and compressed natural gas cars. Now the city is looking at the private fleet and plug-in hybrids. He acknowledges that some mistakes have been made in the past by prescribing winners and losers, but he says the future is in electrifying our fleets. “So, we decided to do something with Zipcar and City CarShare. We want people to know City Hall ‘gets it’,” Newsom says.
The charging stations are on loan from Coulomb over the next two years, explains Newsom. You wonder what takes so long in government — this took seven departments to get this done, he quipped. But San Francisco wants to be the center of electric vehicles, and Newsom also notes the city’s deal with Better Place. To the big car companies he says: “Enough is enough; I don’t want to continue to fund failure.” He says to Detroit, “If you’re going to ask another $17 billion from tax payers, then it’s time for real change, not marginal change. It’s time to increase fuel standards dramatically. We need a lot more of this.” (Wow, also the Mayor and other city officials routinely mispronounced Coulomb’s name — time for a name change?).
Coulomb’s CEO Richard Lowenthal announced some new “green fleet management products.” He says the new service can see which electric cars in a fleet are available and fully charged. In addition the service can send notes to fleet manager’s smart phones to remind them to plug in the vehicles, and to alert the manager if unauthorized persons open the vehicles.