GE’s Wattstation electric-vehicle charging station went on sale this week. The most notable thing about it is its appearance. Unlike many other charging stations on the market now, this one isn’t ugly. It looks like the sort of thing you might want to plug a $40,000 electric car into.
Like the other charging stations that have started to appear outside city halls and in hotel parking lots, GE’s are connected to a network that allows charger owners to manage them from a central location. It also allows drivers to find them using some GPS systems and with smart-phone apps.
But GE went a step further and hired a famous designer, Yves Bahar, to create the stations. The result is a sleek column with a friendly interface. Bahar is famous for the design of the MIT Media Lab’s $100 laptop and Herman Miller chairs, among other things.
Based on the design, GE engineers devised a slick cord-retraction system that keeps the cord hidden and cleans it off. Whereas, the thick, tangled cords on most charging stations make them look like they belong behind a gas station with the air pumps.