Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ELVIIS Volvo C30 EV charges from any standard outlet, bills the driver

The electric vehicle is still a fresh enough concept that the issue of redirecting the bill when filling up at a public outlet or a friend's house is of little concern. But once EVs gain more traction and the cost of electricity during that monthly dinner party starts to run upwards of 50 bucks, you'll definitely take notice. ELVIIS, a research collaboration between Ericsson and the Viktoria Institute in Sweden, may be the solution. Instead of pulling power from the grid blindly and billing the outlet's owner, the system provides driver and vehicle information to a server before charging begins, then redirects the cost for power consumed to whatever account you've registered with the vehicle, alleviating any concern about unexpected electricity bills. ELVIIS can theoretically serve other purposes, allowing you to select the least-expensive energy source, for example, or set the car to wait to charge until late-night, when rates are lower.

We jumped into the passenger seat of one of five existing ELVIIS cars -- built around an all-electric Volvo C30 -- and poked around the charging interface. The project isn't fully operational just yet, and was running in demo mode so there's no way to verify that it works as described, but it definitely appears to be solid, with Ericsson providing financial and development support. Eventually, it will use the car's GPS to identify nearby power outlets -- for now, you need to enter a specific outlet ID. There's also an Android app that allows you to monitor and reschedule charging, so if you programmed your car to be completely charged by 7AM but realized that you need to leave at 6, you can make sure you're covered without getting out of bed.


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