The road to Car 2.0 has been paved with the use of digital intelligence for in-car entertainment, maintenance and safety services, but navigation services have proven to be the real gateway to Car 2.0. GPS has moved from a peripheral feature to a central technology that’s fundamentally changed the way people drive.
Continuing that trend from feature to function, intelligence in the upcoming generation of electric vehicles will give drivers, automakers, utilities and power grid operators essential tools for managing a massive new load on the electric grid. Over time, it’s likely to have two main applications:
- Smart Charging: Manages timing and pace of the energy flowing to plugged-in vehicles. Supports the power grid’s operation or optimally matching the load to the availability of renewable energy resources like wind and solar. This involves bidirectional data flow — communicating battery charge levels and vehicle identification numbers (VIN) for example, for electric cars plugging in at charge stations.
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- Vehicle to Home or Grid: Manages bi-directional flow of energy between vehicles and buildings (nearer term) or the power grid (longer term), feeding energy back into the grid when necessary (vehicle to grid or V2G). The idea is to have vehicles store energy when variable renewable supplies, such as wind and solar power, exceed demand, and have them provide power for an individual home or the grid at large when demand spikes.
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The Car 2.0 ecosystem extends well beyond the traditional auto industry. Startups, their investors, as well as established companies working with software, charging hardware and communication networks all have roles to play. Some cross multiple categories.