• While sales of electric vehicles (EV) have been slow so far, they’re not going away They’re on the cusp of becoming platforms for state-of-the-art information technology and analytics – similar to what telematics and connected cars bring to the table – according to two IBM executives.
• There’s a lot of “stuff” that needs to be taken care of for plug-ins to reach high volume sales adoption – one of these being who will pay for the needed charging station infrastructure.
• There’s a complex web of players who have to bring these chargers to more car owners – site hosts (could be employer, retail store, parking garage, condo owner); charging post owner who is sometimes different than site host; utility that owns the wires delivering the electricity; generator of the power; loyalty and coupon programs that are coming to play; and sometimes transactions that might be routed back to the EV owner’s home utility account.
• Utilities, EV makers, retailers, and key technology players are beginning to solve problems using advanced analytics, says IBM executives Clay Luthy and Allan Schurr.
• Honda, PG&E, and IBM are collaborating in California and looking at how EV drivers behave. Cloud-computing systems are analyzing data streaming from a fleet of Honda Fit EVs being driven in real world driving conditions. The system’s processing millions of data points and teasing out patters from the information – this will help utilities to plan more effectively and address some of the Smart Grid challenges.
• A really big challenge for utilities is what to do about Smart Grid technologies and the demand to access more renewable energy made from things like wind and solar.
• EVs can play an important role in it, if key players like automakers and technology suppliers play the game – some of that has to do with all the battery storage capacity not being used when they’re sitting around in parking lots.
• Navigant Research expects that by 2020 about 200,000 EVs will be able to feed power back to buildings. If so, EVs could help prevent blackouts and also boost renewables by offering a way to mop up excess output from solar panels and wind mills, the IBM execs say.