The rise of plug-in vehicles brings with it many benefits and opportunities to improve industries beyond the automobile. Ford has joined an effort with seven other automakers to develop a universal language between cars and utilities that will let the two communicate via the cloud for a variety of purposes.
Ford is joined by Honda, BMW, Chrysler, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, GM, and Toyota, along with power companies across the United States in develop a method for all cars and utilities to easily communicate. The two-way communication could, for example, be used to stagger the charging of plug-in vehicles so as to not overload the grid around dinner time. The opt-in program will offer financial incentives to participants as the companies try to encourage being part of a bigger electrical ecosystem.
Smart homes equipped with integrated air conditioning systems already do something similar, alternating use during periods of high demand to prevent an overload. Another potential benefit to this system down the road will be the ability of utilities to store and draw-upon energy stored in the big battery banks of many electric vehicles. This would make storing green energy from wind or solar power a lot more feasible with careful regulation, and studies have shown that connected smart homes use as much as 88% less electricity than the average dwelling.
Of course there are those privacy advocates who don’t like the idea of the power company determining when they plug-in, and for now there’s the option to decline the utility’s request to pause charging.
There are drawbacks to such a system though. What should happen if an unforeseen emergency arises, and your was remotely disconnected without enough charge to get you where you need to go? Not even the best algorithms can predict a dislocated shoulder or a stranded friend. I’d have to think long and hard before clicking the “Accept” button.