The WattStation Connect software platform will allow charger operators to manage, monitor and maintain their EV charging “ecosystem,” gather information and process payments.
Has an 800-pound gorilla just crashed the EV charging party? This week at the SAE World Congress in Detroit, GE Energy unveiled plans to offer a comprehensive EV charging station and software platform based on its new WattStation commercial chargers. This could really rock the market for charging network services, which is largely made up of independent companies like Coulomb’s Chargepoint and Ecotality’s Blink Network.
The commercial counterpart to GE’s well-known wall-mounted home chargers, the WattStation pedestal unit is aimed at property managers and vehicle fleet owners. It features sleek styling by trendy designer Yves Behar, an LED interface, and a retractable cord that slithers inside the unit when not in use. It supports three modes of communication with the WattStation Connect network (3G, Wi-Fi or Ethernet), and is based on a modular design to allow future upgrades.
The WattStation Connect software platform will allow charger operators to manage, monitor and maintain their EV charging “ecosystem,” gather information and process payments. A mobile app lets EV drivers locate stations, check availability and pay for charging. RFID technology provides secure access to the charging stations.
Charged asked Chris Bowler, General Manager of Marketing for GE Energy’s Industrial Solutions, what makes the new platform different from existing charging networks. “This is a GE-designed software platform, sitting on GE servers. It has been designed with our customers’ needs in mind, specifically to target commercial customers, fleet management customers, and obviously our GE Fleet business customers, and to provide capabilities including customer pricing, secure access management, valuable reports regarding energy usage for cost allocation – things like that. It’s in the cloud.”
As for availability, Bowler said, “we have our EV certified installer program, which we would recommend, but it's open to any electrical contractor to purchase the hardware and software via one of our approved distributors.”
For now, the system supports only Level 2 charging. When we asked about DC quick charging, Bowler said, “we're still evaluating that opportunity, and seeing where we think the market demand will be for that.”
A pair of new videos tout the benefits of the stylish chargers, and explain how to use the WattStation Connect software.