Campbell, Calif. – February 8, 2010 – Marking a significant change in the way drivers pay to fuel electric vehicles, and how charging station owners are paid for providing that service, Coulomb Technologies today announced the Flex Billing™ system. Beginning in July, users of ChargePoint® Networked Charging Stations will no longer need a subscription to the ChargePoint® Network. As a more flexible alternative, owners of the charging stations (Hosts), including utilities, retailers, municipalities and corporations will determine the price that drivers pay to use their stations, if any. The Flex Billing system provides the tools for Hosts to set pricing at individual charging stations while Coulomb provides turnkey services to collect, process and forward payments from drivers directly to Hosts. Additionally, Coulomb is introducing its new ChargePass™ smart cards that gives EV owners the ability to fuel up at any ChargePoint Networked Charging Station and receive payment discounts and other benefits.
"This shift is a direct result of the feedback from our customer base which dates back to 2008," said Richard Lowenthal, CEO of Coulomb Technologies. "Flexibility is extremely important to our station owners, whether access to a charging station is controlled and billed based upon time, kilowatt hours, or is completely free. Through our networking software technology, we've added the Flex Billing system to our Application Service Suite, allowing station owners to set their own pricing."
For ChargePoint Network station owners worldwide, the Flex Billing system enables station owners to set pricing as a function of time of day, calendar date, and driver - much like a parking meter. For example, a city with public ChargePoint stations can require drivers to pay one price per hour for access during the hours of 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and a second price "after hours." Those same stations can also be configured to provide "free" access to that city's EV fleet vehicles 24/7. Electric Utilities who own stations can now bill their customers by kilowatt hour and time of use. In addition, corporations who own charging stations can offer their employees free parking but may opt to require visitors of their facilities to pay for charging at their stations.
"We are pleased to see Coulomb adopting an open system and moving away from subscriptions," said Mark Duvall, Director of Electric Transportation at the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI). "From our research we concluded that utilities and other charging station owners generally don't want a third party between them and the customer. An open system is in the best interest of station owners, utilities, and drivers."
One of the most convenient ways to access ChargePoint charging stations is with Coulomb's new ChargePass smart card, which is modeled after bridge toll systems. The ChargePass smart card is an easy way for consumers to pay for electric vehicle fueling. To establish a ChargePass account, drivers:
Each time a driver uses a ChargePass card, the Flex Billing system automatically deducts the EV fueling fee from their current account balance and sends that money to the station owner. When the balance gets below a predetermined limit, the account is "re-filled" automatically. Drivers using the ChargePass cards can get discounts, and the ChargePass card can be private labeled for use in loyalty programs.
Coulomb Technologies is the leader in electric vehicle charging station infrastructure with networked charging stations installed in municipalities and organizations worldwide. Coulomb provides a vehicle-charging infrastructure, with an open system driver network: the ChargePoint Network (www.mychargepoint.net) provides multiple web-based portals for Hosts, Fleet managers, Drivers, and Utilities, and ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations ranging in capability from 120 Volt to 240 Volt AC charging and up to 500 Volt DC charging. For more information, please visit www.coulombtech.com and follow Coulomb on Twitter at twitter.com/coulombevi.