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The Facebook game gives users and four of his or her friends the opportunity to create a short virtual trip in the new Ford electric vehicle, using MapQuest mapping data to calculate how far a destination is in relation to available charging stations nearby.
Ford Focus Electric marketing manager Chad D’Arcy says, “This is a great way for consumers to both have fun and learn about the new Focus Electric at the same time. We want to offer people the opportunity to experience the car now, especially those on Facebook who have supported us for so long.”
Coming to grips with the taxing nature EVs can have on a residential power grid is causing some car companies to explore products more akin to the housing market than the auto industry.
BMW is the latest company to announce special plans and research designed to counteract that burden by rethinking how homes use electricity. The German automaker expects to have a demo home as part of their Mountain View, Calif. technology office, completed by the end of March.
The home is designed to efficiently charge their EV, the ActiveE, which is a variation on their 1-Series while maintaining flexible power consumption to compensate for increased consumption during charging times.
Toyota introduced something similar in October, 2010 called the Toyota Smart Center, which they said would be commercially available in 2015… Do you love your Camry enough to let the same person style both your car and home? In Japan, Nissan built a demo house called Kan-kan-kyo for the same purpose.
As for BMW, they’ve paired up with Tendril, an energy management company that is helping provide data to fully examine how an EV changes household power consumption.
“We’re keen to understand how utilities will gain benefit from a program like this,” Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck said to the New York Times. “The car guys don’t want to have 3,000 relationships with all the different utilities.”
Tuck also said that even a small number of EVs charging at once could actually create demand peaks. While we’re still a long way off from having electric vehicles in every driveway, or even more than a handful per city, it could feasibly create a problem.
The auto industry is not known for sharing ideas between competitors, in fact that behavior routinely rips contracts between car companies to shreds, but keep your eye out for some serious copy cat strategy down the road.
Chevrolet is offering Volt owners a service via their OnStar system and a smartphone app that will show sources of renewable energy. That sort of power is at its peak availability during otherwise off-peak hours, encouraging Volt owners to charge off-peak.
Perhaps a similar service will be available in the future from other companies as well. For now, there are only 700 BMW ActiveEs available by lease, so it seems unlikely that they will actually market streamlined home services any time soon.
GALLERY: BMW ActiveE
[Source: New York Times]
GE is introducing a solar powered carport designed for charging electric cars that uses solar panels that produces enough energy every year to power 20 homes with electricity.
Rather than a home unit, the carport is intended for public usage, with six charging stations allowing for a total of 13 EVs to be charged each day. Since the carport is connected to the grid, the unit can both draw and feed power, depending on the amount of electricity required.
The first carport will be installed in Connecticut, but expect to see this kind of technology elsewhere in the future.
Mapping out electric car charging stations onto an open source format like Google Maps seems like something totally self-evident, but the Department of Energy and Google are undertaking an official initiative to overlay EV charge points onto of a mapping application.
The project will be known as the GeoEVSE forum, and comprise of a database of 600 charging stations, which allows users to search by location, charger type and payment methods. Private companies like BestBuy are also getting on board, and the various entities involved hope that the project will help further public trust in electric vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure.
The charge stations use 480 volts rather than the 220 volts used in the home charging units. With the lower voltage, the charging process can take hours, but BP’s system will allow customers to get back on the road in the time it takes to stop for a bathroom break. The stations will only be installed at 45 of the company’s 11,000 gas stations, in markets where the Nissan Leaf is initially being rolled out.
BP is apparently using the pilot project to gauge consumer behavior related to EV charging, and hasn’t announced a pricing model yet.
[Source: Kicking Tires]