Electric Cars To Follow Mobile Roaming Model

‘Intelligent mobility’ will make electric cars viable by 2025, says Logica

Electric cars could make the move away from petrol and diesel-fuelled transport a reality, but industries throughout the UK need to start getting the right IT infrastructure in place now, if electric vehicles are to become a viable option by 2025.

This is the conclusion of a new report by Logica on the feasibility of electric vehicles in the UK over the next twenty years. The report quotes National Grid Plc chief executive Steve Holiday, who predicts that electric cars will make up 20 percent of UK auto sales by 2016, as drivers take advantage of government subsidies and lower fuel costs.

However, according to Logica, the current electricity infrastructure would not be able to cope with a sudden influx of electric vehicles. Smart grids therefore need to be developed, in order to balance local and national supply and demand, and tens of thousands of charging points will need to be installed across the country – both outside homes and in public spaces.

Like mobile roaming

“There is a lot of focus on the cars themselves but, for me, it’s all about getting the infrastructure in place,” said Theo Quick, Logica’s head of intelligent transport solutions, speaking to eWEEK Europe. There is currently a hotchpotch of around 15 different electric car schemes, he explained. “We will need interoperability between the schemes, to allow for smart ticketing and billing, and intelligent back office solutions.”

Quick said that the current ‘all-you-can-eat’ model for electricity consumption by cars is unsustainable. He explained that, in future, driving an electric car could be similar to mobile phone roaming. Drivers will be able to plug into any of the charging points provided by the different schemes, but will receive one single bill from their ‘provider’ at the end of the month.

New technologies will also enable people to go further afield in their electric cars, Quick said. ‘Intelligent mobility’ solutions, such as dynamic routing and fastfeed batteries, are extending the range of electric cars, and under-road conduction charging allows vehicles to charge up their batteries as they go along.

Making electric cars sustainable

Last year technology giant IBM led an investigation into how the UK’s electricity grid will need to be updated to allow best use of electric vehicles. While keen to cash-in on the rise of smart grids and smart meters, IBM warned that the eco-friendliness of electric cars depends largely on the carbon footprint of the electric grid.

“Electric vehicles have enormous potential for creating a cleaner transport system to help the UK meet its 2050 carbon reduction targets. However, there is uncertainty over the pace of vehicle development, consumer take up and patterns of usage and charging,” said Jon Bentley, energy and environment partner at IBM Global Business Services, at the time.

“It is important we anticipate the likely requirements these developments will have for grid enhancement and the need for an intelligent architecture.”

Meanwhile, car maker Ford announced in April 2010 that its forthcoming electric vehicles would integrate with Microsoft’s Hohm software, which monitors utility consumption in homes and makes recommendations on what users can do to save energy.