Market News

 February 09, 2012
Need a recharging point now? You're just a click away

 Electric car drivers in eight countries can now see if a charge point is being used before they head towards it, striking another blow against the so-called 'range anxiety' that has hampered adoption of electric vehicles.

The free system, developed by London-based start-up PlugSurfing, collects real time data from 6,000 charging points across the UK, Norway, Holland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, and Australia.

Drivers can find out whether the charging point is 'available', 'in use' or 'out of order' on their laptop or smartphone, for which apps have been developed in 10 languages, including English, French, and German.

Adam Woolway, community manager for PlugSurfing UK, told BusinessGreen that the company is also working to overcome the problem where a point may be shown as available even if a car is occupying the space and not charging.

"The live status updates of the charging points we have on our site are just the beginning to helping people charge," he said in an email. "We have already started investigating reservation systems, and then also comes the challenge of how we can keep these bays available for their intended use."

In related news, the US Department of Energy (DOE) plans to launch a new Energy Innovation Hub to advance energy storage technologies and more powerful batteries for electric cars.

An investment of up to $120m over five years will be spent on accelerating the deployment of energy storage and battery technologies to improve the reliability and the efficiency of the electrical grid, bring more renewable energy technologies online, and advance electric and hybrid vehicles.

"This Energy Innovation Hub will bring together scientists, engineers, and industry to develop fresh concepts and new approaches that will ensure America is at the leading-edge of the growing global market for battery technology," said energy secretary Steven Chu.

"With the advances from this research and development effort, we will be able to design and produce batteries here in America that last longer, go farther, and cost less than today's technologies."