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Smart-Charging Startup Coulomb Eyes Europe

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With San Jose, Calif., signed on to deploy its electric vehicle recharging stations, Campbell, Calif.-based startup Coulomb Technologies has set its sights on Europe. Founder and CEO Richard Lowenthal told us today the company will enter the European market in 2009. Although no deals have been finalized, Lowenthal said a growing amount of interest has convinced him to pursue the opportunity. “It’s all about how, not if,” he says. “Six months ago, it was if.”

Today, we got our hands on images of the company’s EU prototypes, which Lowenthal described as “vending machines for cars,” and they look a lot like the U.S. versions but with local languages.


Expanding overseas may be a smart move for Coulomb, which has previously positioned itself as an all-American option for the U.S. market. Pledges to build out national infrastructure for plug-ins across the pond have come at a rapid pace in recent months: Portugal committed to creating a national network within three years as part of a deal with Renault-Nissan, and Ireland announced plans to invest in infrastructure for the 250,000 electric vehicles it aims to have on the road by 2020. Spanish utility Iberdrola (s IBE) has partnered with General Motors (s GM) to conduct a feasibility study for EV infrastructure in the UK and Spain.

Asked about plans for those four countries, a tight-lipped Lowenthal said Coulomb is in talks with “most of them.” Better Place, which has already locked in an infrastructure deal in the EU (Denmark, not to mention California, Hawaii, Australia, and Israel), has also mentioned talks with the governments of Ireland and Portugal.