Report: IT and Networking Issues for the Electric Vehicle Market

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Vehicle Connection & Identification
    1. Building Codes
    2. Battery Status
    3. Managing Vehicle-Grid Interaction
    4. Power Transfer
      1. Timed Power Transfer
  3. Communications Between Charging Locations and the Grid
    1. Home Area Networks
      1. Smart Meters
    2. Communications Channels
      1. Broadband
      2. ZigBee
      3. Powerline Networking
      4. Cellular Networks
  4. Utility Interaction with Customers
    1. Real-time Energy Pricing
    2. Enabling Vehicles to Respond to Grid Conditions
    3. Renewable Energy
    4. Future Vehicle to Grid (V2G) Applications
  5. Implementation Issues
    1. Cost
    2. Standards in Flux
    3. Clash of Multiple Industries
      1. Control
    4. Privacy
  6. About Pike Research


The new generation of mass-produced electric vehicles (including both plug-in and all-electrics) that will start arriving in 2010 will be supported by charging equipment that can be installed at residences as well as in public and private charging stations. Keeping track of these vehicles’ charging needs and the overall energy demand on the grid will require transmitting data over old and new communications pathways using a series of developing and yet-to-be-written standards.

From an IT perspective, the entrance of vehicles into commercial, residential and power grid networks provides similar opportunities to the evolution of the Internet in the 1990s. It will likewise require first time interoperability between a myriad of operating systems, appliances, and proprietary and open protocols and standards.

A subset of the multi-billion dollar smart grid industry, EV-IT integration will provide extensive opportunities for hardware and software developers to adapt systems to evolving standards. A larger effort will be required to create systems that will function like multi-protocol routers, speaking many languages and sharing data between vehicle networks, cellular networks, HANs and utilities via the Internet.

Industries that previously had little to no interaction with each other are now collaborating, determining new technologies and standard protocols and formats for sharing data. Formerly isolated networks must be able to handshake and seamlessly share volumes of financial and performance data. EV charging transactions will, for the first time, bring together platforms including:

  • Vehicle operating system/Power management systems
  • Utility billing management systems
  • Grid performance data
  • Charging equipment applications for energy and battery management
  • Wireless (HAN and cellular) and wired (powerline and broadband) networks
  • Web services

This opportunity to develop the IT infrastructure that can patch together the multitude of networks will attract some of the biggest names in information technology (IT), networking and communications. A subset of the greater smart grid upgrades to enhance reliability and energy efficiency, the emerging EV-IT sector will launch new companies that will address individual niches such as charging billing and vehicle to grid communications, as well as require the participation of system integration veterans such as IBM, GE, AT&T and Cisco.

Large utilities will spend in excess of $10 million each to integrate vehicles into their technology platforms, creating a $800 million market. By 2015, North America will see more than 1.1 million charging equipment installations. Utilities will have to monitor power consumption at these access points and bill the EV owner or charging equipment for the transaction, all while ensuring that grid reliability is not compromised.

This formidable task will take not only considerable financial investment, but also the willingness of two industries (utilities and automotive OEMs) who are accustomed to having significant influence over new standards and technologies to collaborate and compromise.

Technology, networking and communications companies will use their expertise in building the Internet to spur the power industry, which has changed its infrastructure and technology little in a century, to more quickly adopt 21st century of information and communications technology. Utility billing systems and revenue models will be overhauled to accommodate time-of-use pricing necessary to encourage off-peak energy consumption.

Finally, a new field of energy aggregators will track customer energy consumption so that consumers can pay for vehicle charging through a single account. Minimizing the cost of data management is critical to the success of this service as transactions for vehicle charges will be only a few dollars at most.

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