- Helping you drive happy

Plug-in hybrids, utility companies and the cloud

Today in Sacramento, California, eight global automakers including Ford will test a new technology allowing utility companies to communicate with plug-in electric vehicles via the cloud.

In an effort to manage energy use and improve the efficiency of the power grid, the two-way communication platform will enable the utilities to send a message directly to the vehicle, asking it to stop charging temporarily as a way of helping a grid that is becoming overloaded, for example during peak-demand hours. The opt-in program allows customers to refuse the request if desired.

The automakers are collaborating with the Electric Power Research Institute, leading utility companies and Sumitomo Electric to develop a system that would allow plug-in electric vehicles from all participating manufacturers to work with power grids despite their varying technologies.

In a typical situation, a vehicle owner would plug the car in for charging and set a time for departure. If the system detects that pausing the charge would disrupt driver needs it would not stop charging. Otherwise, the charge would pause to help conserve power for the grid.