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Today in Cleantech

Microsoft’s move to create a global cloud-based management platform for plug-in vehicle chargers seems to be moving forward in Japan, where its partnership with Toyota has yielded a new Internet-capable charger expected to go on sale next month. The “G-Station” charger announced this week will allow plug-in electric and hybrid vehicle owners to use their smart cards to authorize billing for the charging they’re about to receive, as well as receive personalized information at the point of charge. (The stations work for both Toyota and non-Toyota vehicles, by the way — a good thing, considering Toyota’s rather small contribution to the plug-in field). Customers can also connect to Toyota’s Smart Center via Internet-enabled smart phones or mobile devices, to do such things as check on the charging status of their vehicle or find locations of charging stations elsewhere. Sounds like a pretty typical set of smart charging capabilities. Microsoft wants to make a global network based on its Azure cloud computing platform, and has deals with Ford Motor Co. as well to deliver car charging connectivity, though those projects seem more based on transforming Microsoft’s Hohm home energy Web platform to serve the needs of home-based car charging. We’ll see how fast this global network emerges — and how it interacts with both plug-in car specific rollouts, or the national car charging infrastructure efforts underway.