Today, GE has unveiled its long-awaited scheme for electric-car charging points, complete with a design by Yves Béhar's Fuseproject.
Outwardly, the GE Wattstation charge point resembles the award winning work by FastCompany.com contributor Gadi Amit and NewDeal Design, for Better Place. And indeed, the Better Place design and the Wattstation are both usable by any city interested in building EV infrastructure.
The design, according to Béhar, is meant to be easily seen and used—An LED indicator ring around the top edge is green when the charging point is available, red when it's not, and blue when it's in use. In addition, the pillar is designed with a sloping top meant to shed rain and snow, and in the future, the design will be customizable, so that the charge points can blend in with a city's street furniture. What's more, the Wattstation is smart-grid enabled, so that it can respond to the loads on the power grid. It also has, potentially, a greater power output, able to charge a car in as little as 4-8 hours, rather than the 12-16 hours it takes with today's "Level 1" chargers.
But, from a design standpoint, perhaps the subtlest things are the proportions and orientation of the charge point—they're meant to tell you exactly how to approach them for use, with the forward slant of the interface; and they're also sized to be substantial but unobtrusive, so that they feel friendly and approachable.
The stations will be rolled out commercially in 2011, and a smaller, at-home version will be unveiled later this year.