What also needs to be seamless is energy management. “If you live in a community where everyone, or even half the people on the block have electric vehicles, and they all come home from work and charge at the same time, that might need to be managed,” says Hardy. Fortunately there is technology available that can help – the smart grid. Electricity is currently fed over cables to homes and offices in one direction, but increasingly there is the ability to send back information the other way, on how much is being used, by what, and for how long.
Smart electricity meters are already being installed in many parts of the world, which can give a real time data feed of how much power is being consumed. Soon that could be expanded so that our devices, and vehicles, talk to each other and intelligently balance power draw.
“In the case of a vehicle, you’re interested in what condition it’s in,” says Hardy. “If you just drove a few miles, and your vehicle is almost charged, you don’t need a lot of energy.”
The centre is working on standardised devices that will be able to function with each other, and keep the driver informed of energy resources and demands without impacting the grid negatively.
“It’s going to take a lot of electric vehicles, probably millions, to influence the national grid,” says Hardy. “But it only takes a handful to impact your local, neighbourhood transformer.”