I stopped by the Chevrolet booth at CES to check out the new Spark electric vehicle, which is slated to launch sometime around June, and a rep showed me a rather interesting new charger designed by GE that uses near-field communication to charge drivers for their charge.
The charger is a 240V level 2 quick charger, and is designed for commercial applications. According to GM, a level 2 charger fills up the Spark's battery to 80 percent in as quick as 20 minutes.
But the crazy thing is that the charger is locked until someone swipes their NFC phone against it and pulls up an app that monitors and charges for electricity use. We're talking about extremely low prices here (a few buck at most) but until now most EV charging stations have been provided free of charge, likely because figuring out a payment system wasn't worth the cost when EV drivers are still few and far between. GE has solved that problem.
The Spark EV appears to be a pretty cool ride, especially if it comes in at under $25,000 like Chevy has said. I dig the charger design, which combines an old-style 120V charger (top) shared with the Volt, along with the new level 2 standard.
Still, the bigger news is that GE has already sorted out a system to monetize EV charging. It shouldn't come as a surprise, as nothing ever comes free. But there it is, actually happening. The reliance on NFC for the system is also kind of a big deal, as NFC is still struggling to take off for payment systems. (It doesn't help that iPhones, along with tons of other phones, don't have the capability.) NFC phone or not, it looks like EV drivers may not score free fill-ups forever. That is, unless you drive a Tesla.