Automakers, Utilities Collaborate On Plug-In Cloud Charging Technology

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
automakers utilities collaborate on plug in cloud charging technology

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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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Oct 17, 2014

    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.

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    • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Oct 17, 2014

      @FormerFF 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.

  • SexCpotatoes SexCpotatoes on Oct 17, 2014

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

    • Drzhivago138 Drzhivago138 on Oct 17, 2014

      "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..."

  • Sky_Render Sky_Render on Oct 17, 2014

    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.

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    • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Oct 29, 2014

      @mcs 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.

  • PandaBear PandaBear on Oct 17, 2014

    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.