Toyota tests EV smart grid technology in Indiana

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Toyota is teaming with Duke Energy in an effort to test the communication of EV charging with the power grid. Image: danielctw/Flickr/CC BY

Toyota Motor Corp., Duke Energy Corp. and the not-for-profit Energy Systems Network are collaborating in Indiana on a pilot program to test standards for plug-in vehicles and charging stations that communicate with the power grid.

Toyota team-up seeks to answer questions

How will power companies assess charges for a future infrastructure supporting electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles? How will that interaction affect the power grid itself? These are some of the question addressed in the collaboration, which seeks to test the effectiveness of communication standards developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Five Prius drivers

The effort will involve five Duke employees, who will be given Priuses to drive regularly for at least one year in the Indianapolis area. The automaker will also provide each with a home charging station  and a gateway communication system.

That system will allow them to select from various charging strategies, via an online application, such as powering up in off hours when the cost is less. More than a per-vehicle calculator of power charges, however, it will also generate a good deal of useful data for the future of plug-in vehicle infrastructure.

The Indianapolis region

The Indianapolis region was selected for the effort, set to begin in 2013, based on the previous work of the Energy Systems Network’s ‘Project Plug-IN’ initiative. That effort has already implemented more than 100 vehicle charging stations in the metro Indianapolis area.

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Energy Systems Network CEO Paul Mitchell said:

“Through Project Plug-IN, the Indianapolis region has been a national leader in the deployment and monitoring of plug-in vehicles with typical consumers, gathering data and taking steps towards making the ‘electric commute’ a truly practical alternative for more Americans. We’re pleased to extend this effort through the partnership with Toyota and Duke Energy, to help our vehicles, charging infrastructure and utilities speak the same language for the benefit of consumers.”

The state was also selected because it is second only to Michigan for vehicle manufacturers. Toyota, Honda, Subaru and General Motors all have plants in Indiana. Plus, says Indiana Commerce Secretary Daniel Hasler, its universities graduates more than 5,000 engineers each year.

Valuable future data

The effort will not only benefit Toyota and Duke, but it will provide necessary data for a future that will host more and more electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Edward Mantey, a vice president at Toyota Technical Center, stated:

“Smart charging through two-way communication with utilities will not only be a benefit to the customers but is crucial for the promotion of transportation electrification.”


Indianapolis Business Journal

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