In order to help make electric vehicles a public success story, a solid charging infrastructure needs to be rolled out. GE has enlisted the creative assistance of renowned industrial designer Yves Behar to produce a user-friendly, durable and pleasantly curvy charging solution for the upcoming electric revolution. The WattStation not only cuts down on full-cycle charge time but also features an LED status system, a tilted touchscreen user interface and cable that retracts into the unit's metallic body.
This charging station has been designed to help accelerate the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles with both public and private spaces in mind. Steve Fludder of GE's Ecomagination project said: "Widespread electric vehicle adoption depends on having charging stations that integrate the need for quick charging with the personal need for easy functionality. GE WattStation will meet this challenge."
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The company has utilized the talents of acclaimed industrial designer Yves Behar to create a modular electric charging station that's "as durable as street furniture, as visible as a light beacon, and as beautiful as street greenery."
Behar has opted for a cylindrical body that flares toward the top to become a circular, touchscreen user interface. The screen itself is tilted at a “service angle” for optimized ergonomic comfort and is edged by an LED light ring that indicates to the driver whether the WattStation is available. If it shows white then it's available for use. The LED turns red during charging and turns green when a vehicle has been fully charged but driver's are warned to stay away from yellow lights, as this indicates a malfunctioning WattStation.
The incorporated Smart Grid technology from GE claims to reduce a typical full-cycle charge for a 24 kWh battery from 12 to 18 hours to between four to eight hours. It also allows utility companies to effectively manage local and regional grid usage. The unit is expected to wirelessly communicate with digital platforms and mobile devices, so users will be able to remotely locate, operate and monitor the unit. It's constructed to withstand harsh weather and even has a built-in heater to make sure it's available in freezing conditions and features a self-retracting charge cable keeps the area clear of obstruction.
The WattStation will be made commercially available worldwide in 2011, with a home version being unveiled later this year.
The following video sees Behar explain the thinking behind the design of the WattStation: