CIO Magazine - Can a Smartphone App Juice the Market for Electric Cars?


(25-Mar-11) Consumers have been slow to embrace electric vehicles, despite their cool factor. One obstacle to adoption is that the battery-powered cars can typically travel only about 100 miles before requiring a recharge. And there are just a few thousand public charging stations in the United States. But Richard Lowenthal thinks he’s discovered a way to quell consumers’ “range anxiety,” or fear that their cars will run out of juice before reaching their destinations.

As CTO at Coulomb Technologies, which makes electric-vehicle charging stations, Lowenthal helped design a mobile app, ­ChargePoint, that lets consumers find and reserve any of its stations in North ­America.

Available for the iPhone and BlackBerry, the app lets drivers learn whether a nearby charging station is available. Once drivers plug in, they can use their mobile devices to start and stop charging sessions remotely and receive notifications when their vehicles are ready. “Mobile communications is a great way to solve the historic consumer problem of range anxiety,” says Lowenthal.

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