Google Charges Up an Ever-Larger EV Fleet

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California, June 13, 2011 (ENS) – Google has developed the largest corporate EV charging infrastructure in the United States and plans to add 250 more chargers shortly.

The chargers serve shared cars at the company’s Googleplex corporate campus in Mountain View, south of San Francisco, where about 8,000 employees go about the business of the giant Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising corporation.

Over the last few years, several innovative electric vehicle technologies have emerged in the marketplace and we’ve been working to update our green transportation infrastructure,” says Rolf Schreiber, Google’s technical program manager, electric transportation.

“We’re also including the next generation of plug-in vehicles in Gfleet, our car-sharing program for Googlers,” says Schreiber, writing on the company blog.

When Google.org launched the RechargeIt initiative in 2007, there were no commercially available plug-in hybrid EVs on the market. So the company bought several Toyota Priuses and had them retrofitted with A123 Hymotion batteries to create a mini-fleet of plug-in hybrids to demonstrate the technology, Schreiber explains.

“It was the birth of Gfleet, which has since become a valued perk and makes it easier for Googlers to use our biodiesel shuttle system to commute to work by providing green transportation options for people after they arrive at the Googleplex,” Schreiber says.

The Googleplex is located in north Mountain View. Employees living in San Francisco, the East Bay, or South Bay can take a free wifi-enabled Google shuttle to and from work. The shuttles are powered by biodiesel.

The new Gfleet will include more than 30 plug-ins, starting with Chevrolet Volts and Nissan LEAFs, he says. Several have already arrived at the Google campus in Mountain View and are available for use today.

The company will add models from other manufacturers as they become available.

“To juice up our new cars and provide more charging options for Googlers, we’ve been working with Coulomb Technologies’ ChargePoint Network to continue to expand our EV charging infrastructure,” says Schreiber.

“We’ve added 71 new and faster Level 2 chargers to the 150 Level 1 chargers we’ve installed over the last few years, bringing our total capacity to more than 200 chargers, with another 250 new ones on the way.”

The ChargePoint Network provides the charging data that Google uses to track and report on the success of the company’s green transportation initiative.

“Overall, our goal is to electrify five percent of our parking spaces – all over campus and free of charge (pun intended) to Googlers,” says Schreiber. “Our expanded charging system has already helped several Googlers decide to buy new EVs of their own, and we hope others will, too.”

In total, the company’s Gfleet and biodiesel shuttle system result in net annual savings of more than 5,400 tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

“That’s like taking over 2,000 cars off the road, or avoiding 14 million vehicle miles every year,” Schreiber calculates. “But we’re only one company, so we hope other companies think about how they can incorporate these new technologies into their own infrastructure,” he says. “By supporting new, green transportation technologies, we’re enabling our employees to be green and doing our part to help spur growth in the industry.”

Copyright Environment News Service,ENS, 2011. All rights reserved.