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Plug-in IT for Smarter Cars and Grids

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nissan-ev-07271By 2015, there will be over 1 million electric vehicle (EV) charging installations in the U.S. and utilities will spend millions to accommodate them and an influx of EVs, according to the latest GigaOM Pro and Pike Research report, “IT and Networking Issues for the Electric Vehicle Market” (subscription required) by John Gartner and Clint Wheelock. Utilities are expected to spend $800 million integrating car-charging technology into their grids, and for IT companies and smart grid pioneers, both established and up-and-coming, this opens up new opportunities.

As auto buyers transition from gas to electrons, utilities will need to do more than prepare for higher-voltage power outlets in homes and parking structures. EV charging will encompass power transfer scheduling and real-time energy pricing and billing, which require vehicle-to-grid (V2G) communications. That, in turn, will drive demand for IT firms and equipment makers that are well-versed in multi-protocol communications and can link the participants via wireless, power line, broadband and cellular networks, or a combination thereof.

Mind you, there are obstacles to overcome, like competing standards and a historical lack of common ground between the utilities, carmakers, IT giants and telcos. Luckily, startups like Better Place and Coulomb Technologies are starting to tear down those barriers by pursuing partnerships that are fostering cooperation and advancing V2G technologies.

For more insight into the technical challenges and market opportunities created by the impending influx of plug-in vehicles, read the rest of the GigaOM Pro report here.