Coulomb expands program for electric car recharging stations

In coming years, people who own electric cars will need someplace -- other than their homes -- to plug them in when they are out and about. hopes to supply that service in the form of recharging stations located in public and private parking lots. To that end, Coulomb has expanded its reseller program to 28 states.

A recharging station is simply a conveniently-placed electrical outlet that requires a prepaid debit card. Why not have them accept credit cards? "Because the credit card [service] charge will be more than the cost of the [electric] charge," explains one of those resellers, Russell Lord of . Compare that to what it costs to fill a gas tank -- even with today's prices.

The stations will use a specific UL-listed plug that the auto industry has standardized on. Both fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will be able to take advantage of them.

Electric cars are still a hard sell in America, in part because of the problem of recharging away from home. This produces a chicken-and-egg situation -- if there are no cars, there's no incentive to install stations. But Lord believes the time is right to get the ball rolling. "If you put them in your shopping mall," he points out to potential clients, "people with electric cars will shop there." The resellers will also handle installation.