By on October 17, 2014

Ford Focus EV Cloud Charging

A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing.

Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along with the 15 companies, Sumitomo Electric Industries and the Electric Power Research Institute, are developing a platform that would use the cloud to better manage energy usage and grid efficiency “while still meeting the needs” of PHEV and EV owners. The platform is called the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform.

OVGI would operate as follows: an owner would plug their car in as usual, then set a time for when the vehicle would be back on the road. The utility company could then send a message to the car to stop charging during peak power use, or, if doing so would hinder the vehicle’s ability to get back on the road, allow the vehicle to continue charging until it was ready to go.

In turn, the companies could offer their customers incentives to offer their plug-ins to the grid through lower rates on electricity usage. Customers can opt-out, charge elsewhere, or have the vehicle ignore the request.

The first OVGI test is occurring this week at Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center, where the tech will be demonstrated before federal, state, automotive and utility representatives and officials.

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15 Comments on “Automakers, Utilities Collaborate On Plug-In Cloud Charging Technology...”

  • avatar

    So, the little EV sends a message “Hey! I’m dyin’ heah!” and the utility sends back “Tough sh1t, hot day.”?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Noticeably absent from the list – Nissan and Tesla, whose EV sales together comprise 37% of the plug-in market. Mitsubishi is practically invisible in the EV market, so their collaboration is a joke.

    The problems with this plan are numerous:
    1. Most EVs aren’t plugged in during the hours of peak electrical use – they’re on the road or sitting in an office parking lot.

    2. Putting EV power back into the grid is an expensive proposition. Who will pay for the device which does this?

    3. What EV driver is willing to give back power to the grid?

    4. The J1772 Level 2 plug is the most common standard, but its utility in long-range EVs is nil due to its power limitations. This means that the relative power draw of J1772-equipped vehicles will be fairly minor, and therefore such an elaborate power management scheme isn’t worth it.

    5. How will the extra battery cycling affect warranties?

    6. This might sound great in California dream land, but my utility in western PA doesn’t even offer a discount rate for off-peak usage.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think this report is touching on two power, just determining when your car can pull power from the grid. I agree that any proposal to sell stored energy back to the grid is just silly, given the conversion and distribution losses.

      As long as the program is optional and you can set a time that you need a full charge for, I think it’s a good option.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t see anything here about the EV returning power to the grid.

      • 0 avatar

        I didn’t, either. I think the confusion is coming from this sentence in the article:

        “In turn, the companies could offer their customers incentives to offer their plug-ins to the grid through lower rates on electricity usage.”

        I think, perhaps, the sentence should say “offer their plug-ins to the grid FOR CONTROL.”

      • 0 avatar

        It doesn’t seem to be in this blog post or the Edmunds article, but in theory, EVs could serve as electricity storage for the grid, providing electricity during peak demand (if they’re not in use and there is enough time after peak to fully charge them). This would be a major advantage if there are enough EVs to provide significant storage, and if they can be recharged quickly enough. This is not a new idea.

  • avatar

    I, for one, cannot wait for the day when they can REPOSSESS YOUR ELECTRICITY!

    • 0 avatar

      “You can have my electricity when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

      …Which probably got that way because I was trying to hold onto it all barehanded. Not a good idea…”

  • avatar

    When I was in engineering school, one of my fellow students had a father who worked for a company that designs home appliances. They were working on an electric clothes dryer that could sense the power supply’s harmonics and leading/lagging current and temporarily shut off the heating coils to help with grid demand. And this was over a decade ago.

    The real problem with plug-in vehicles is that if everyone had an electric car, the current grid simply couldn’t handle it. It’s good to see that we’re working on solving these issues before they become problems.

    • 0 avatar

      >> The real problem with plug-in vehicles is that if everyone had an electric car, the current grid simply couldn’t handle it.

      Are you sure about that? My Leaf’s on-board charger is 6.6 kw. A GE stoves 11 inch burner is 3.7 kw and 8 inch burners are 2.5 kw. So if you’re using one 11 inch burner and one 8 inch burner, it’s 6.2 kw. So a Leaf pulls slightly more power than someone using a couple of burners on an electric stove. If the grid can handle everyone cooking dinner, it’s should be able to handle electric vehicles.

      • 0 avatar

        mcs, I do not believe it is a reaslistic problem any of us have to worry about. In the first place, not everyone will choose an electric car because EVs are reserved for those with enough money to spend on an expensive toy like an EV, PEV or Hybrid. You can’t go very far in an EV. IOW, only a small, inconsequential minority of car buyers will buy them.

        And, secondly, by the time enough EV’s will actually have been bought as “additional” vehicles to the point that the drain on the grid would exceed capacity, the other sources of electrical generation will have gone online to add to the total power available; sources like sun, wind, geothermal, wave and more nuclear.

        Really nothing to worry about!

        Does anyone have accurate stats on what the percentages are of EVs, PEVs and Hybrids in the number of vehicles on the roads of America? My guess would be the actual number is infintessimally small today and not projected to grow appreciably in the next 20 years.

        Hell, by then we’ll have Lockheed’s nuclear fusion reactors operational and reduced in operational size to that of my Wacker G70 Diesel AC generator.

        • 0 avatar


          Yes, for now they’re not for everyone. Although with the subsidies ($10k) and the cash on the hood from Nissan and the dealer (my Leaf was loaded and sitting on a dealers lot for about 9 months in a sparsely populated lower income area with very few charging opportunities) I didn’t spend a lot of money for it. Leather and Bose system for loaded Corolla or Elantra money.

          It helps if you live in an area with a fair number of CHAdeMO level 3 chargers. I live in an area with plenty of them, so a quick charge is never far away. Plus I like the free coffee and bathroom breaks at most of the chargers.

          Having an ICE car as a backup helps. My kids leave their cars at home while away at college and I’m going to expand my car collection, so if I need one, I can use the one of the kids ICEs in the winter or take one of the toys in the summer. Long distances I can fly.

          Relatively cheap electricity available. Right now I pay about 13.9 cents per kw hour and I’m working on adding a 20kw solar panel system. I also managed to drop my overall power consumption to compensate for the EV. Lots of little things, but the biggest impact was ditching the on-demand hot water tap. Even with the EV, I’m using a little less power than last year.

          You have to be a planner. I’ve always carefully planned my time and I’m very good at sticking to a schedule. So, planning around the range of an EV isn’t a big deal for me. Some days I take the commuter rail. On those days the EV range doesn’t even come into play. It just means I don’t have to make a gas station stop.

          One place an EV thrives is heavy traffic. At heavy traffic speeds of 30 to 45 mph, range goes through the roof. In ECO mode, an EV remaps its throttle, increases regen to help with braking, and helps you smooth out your driving in heavy traffic. Regen is great – we have a Prius with 120k miles in heavy traffic and is still on it’s first set of brakes. The Leafs discs still look like they’ve never had contact with a brake pad.

          They’re not for everyone yet, but they have a lot of good attributes beyond environmental and economic advantages. I really think electric is the best way to go for a luxury car. The silence and torque are highly addictive and perfect for luxury. There are many situations where I should probably use one of the ICE cars instead of the EV, but I still take the EV. That quiet is so awesome. Sometimes I switch off the sound system just to listen to the silence. Kind of like bacon. It’s not the healthiest thing for you, but hard to resist.

        • 0 avatar

          @hdc had a longer response, but I the dog of a comment system ate my comment-work.

          Anyway, you’re probably right. With the discounts and subsidies I got on my Leaf (it was on the dealers lot for 8 months), I paid a Corolla price for leather and an awesome Bose sound system.

          There are a lot of other factors though. At present, EVs are another tool in the automotive transportation toolbox and not right for everyone and every situation.

          BTW, I went though the house and made it more efficient. Even with the EV, my consumption is down a couple of hundred KW from last year. With a 20 KW solar panel system in the works, I may end up pumping back more than I use.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think the real concern is with the ability to generate the power at the station, or even at the substation level, but with the ability to distribute it with existing stepdown transformers and such at the neighborhood level — ie, on the pole outside your house — particularly if everyone in the neighborhood installed a supercharger.

  • avatar

    So it is like the SmartAC that you can opt in and out of for the SmartDay that they charge extra rate on.

    Which is good, and not too hard to implement as long as your car has any wireless or wired communication (pretty cheap these days). It is pretty easy to implement into an in home charger / switch that only starts charging when the grid is stable and electricity is cheap. If SmartAC controller is only $200, this would probably be able the same price as an add on (cheaper if they implement into the logic of the car itself).

    And for emergency, you can always override it by paying more for the peak rate.

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