In Amsterdam, a Coming-Out Party for E.V.s

The Dutch know how to put on a party.
wheels-Amsterdam-blogSpan.jpgTo celebrate the arrival of free electric vehicle charging provided by the city of Amsterdam, E.V. enthusiasts will be congregating at a plug-in spot at 6 p.m. local time on Thursday, with a D.J. powering his decks from the station. A Tesla Roadster and an electric Lotus Elise will be on hand for test drives.

From the evidence of the colorful video prepared by New Motion, a marketing agency, the PlugNParty will be a festive occasion. The actual party location was transmitted to people who signed up on the Web via text message 48 hours before the Champagne corks pop.

Its so Dutch, isnt it? said Anne Smith, a spokeswoman for Coulomb Technologies. The United States-based company manufactured the Amsterdam charge stations and operates as 365 Energy Group in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. There are 15 ChargePoint car stations in Amsterdam, but by 2012 the city aims to have 200, accessed via a smart card, installed as part of a two-year public demonstration project.

Abdellah Cherkaoui, a 365 Energy Group spokesman, said that the embryonic network had been operating for months, giving Amsterdam an early look at E.V. users behavior. He said the charging stations have a few hundred patrons already, many of them driving plug-in scooters or cars that have been converted to run electrically.

The party, Mr. Cherkaoui said, communicates something new in a fun, very Amsterdam way, adding:  The city is always ahead of the curve in terms of being green. This is creating a buzz that will lead people to check it out.

Many pioneering E.V. networks are offering their grid power  free of charge, either because they want to encourage early adopters or because they simply havent uet figured how to collect payments from consumers. Among those providing free charges are the Lawson convenience store chain in Japan, Bookmans Entertainment Exchange stores in Arizona and a Comet electrical supply outlet in England.

As with modern car-sharing programs, E.V. networks will tap into the latest technology. To get free electricity, drivers sign up for the ChargePoint network on the Web. They get a smart card that unlocks the station door. The door then locks over the drivers charging cable, starting the electricity flowing. E.V. drivers will get text messages telling them when their cars are due to be charged. They can use Google Maps to find stations and they will be able to use their cards to charge in other European countries.

Amsterdam is the first European city to get ChargePoint E.V. stations, and Coulombs chief executive, Richard Lowenthal, said in a statement last year that the Dutch city would have the largest network of smart stations in Europe. By 2015, the city optimistically projects that its network could be supporting 10,000 electric cars.
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