Not long ago, I wrote a 2010 year-end wrap-up about the recent burst in announcements surrounding the electric car and what it will mean to automation and control suppliers and design engineers as the supporting infrastructure for these cars gets built. You can access that post here.
Strategic investment activity in this area continues with ABB now throwing its hat in the ring (in addition to other recent ABB investments detailed here). This new venture has ABB investing $10 million in San Francisco-based ECOtality, an electric transportation and storage technologies company. In addition to the direct financial investment, ABB has also signed an agreement with ECOtality to supply ABB technology for ECOtality’s charging stations.
ECOtality will use ABB’s investment to finance its EV Project, a program to develop electric vehicle infrastructures in 16 major U.S. cities (Phoenix, AZ, Tucson, AZ, San Diego, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Portland, OR, Eugene, OR, Salem, OR, Corvallis, OR, Seattle, WA, Nashville, TN, Knoxville, TN, Chattanooga, TN, Washington D.C., Dallas, TX, Fort Worth TX and Houston, TX). The project is also funded by a $115 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The project involves installation of more than 15,000 chargers to support the deployment of 8,300 electric vehicles.
ECOtality expects to have the largest installed base of charging stations in the United States in two years through the DOE-funded EV Project, and plans to work with utilities and municipalities to create plug-in ready regions through its proprietary EV Micro-Climate process.
The agreement between ABB and ECOtality positions ABB as the preferred supplier for ECOtality’s power electronics and component parts in North America. The companies will work together to develop charging technologies for electric vehicles that incorporate the consumer interface and billing functionalities of ECOtality’s Blink EV charging stations. Through its smart grids industry segment initiative, ABB will contribute its expertise from several projects in Europe involving integration of EV charging solutions.