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USA: GE’s EV Charging Solutions Ready to Hit the Streets

When you look at electric vehicle charging stations that are available today, you’re likely to see a haphazardly wrapped cord hanging from a hook that serves more practical than aesthetic use to the design. The hook+cord design is something American’s have become accustomed to over the years at compressed air stands banished to the sides of local filling stations.

GE Energy’s WattStation is a design conceived and constructed by Yves Behar in 2010 that has, with the assistance of GE’s fuseproject, come from concept to fruition with a cure from the common cord.

At the SAE 2012 World Congress in Detroit, GE Energy’s Industrial Solutions business unveiled the new WattStation and WattStation Connect, an electric vehicle (EV) charging station and software platform that is to begin shipment in the next few weeks.

According to Chris Bowler, general manager of marketing for GE Energy Industrial Solutions in North America, the WattStation pedestal’s sleek and stylish look, which was named one of CES 2011’s “15 Awesome Products from the Future” by The Huffington Post, is one of many key elements to the design.

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After consulting customer feedback, GE designed a retractable cord system that houses the connector cable inside of the unit. To fend off skepticism in the reliability of retractable cords, Bowler says that GE conducted more than 6,000 tests on the cord system alone, and has confidence in its reliability for the lifecycle of the product. GE has performed another 2,000 cord tests with mud, which resulted in a self-cleaning function where the cord enters the unit. The cord retracting system also refused to succumb to combinations of slush and ice, as well as normal dry conditions in various temperature ranges.

“We’re very cautious that the GE brand has to show that we deliver a quality product, which has been tested and will not fail as soon as it goes out into the field,” says Bowler. “That’s why we’re ready to ship [the WattStation], because we feel that this is a quality product that won’t raise concerns.”

WattStation Connect

GE’s new WattStation Connect software allows EV drivers to visit www.gewattstation.com to find charging station locations, and view the pedestal’s current status. The company is adding charging stations on a daily basis, so Bowler stresses that it’s important for EV drivers to revisit the site.
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