Charge Your EV From Your Mobile Phone
By EV World
Of all the different ways you'll be able recharge your future grid-tied automobile -- or scooter, for that matter -- add a new option: your mobile telephone. No, I don't mean using your iPhone or Android to monitor how your car's charging regimen is proceeding. I am talking about how you pay for recharging your car.
Okay, let's back up just a bit. For the immediate future, until we reach some point of critical mass in terms of deployed grid-charged vehicles, be they plug-in hybrids or pure electric, most charging stations are initially going to offer electricity free of charge. The cost to recharge any electric car is so relatively trivial that billing people for their electricity costs more than the power is worth. But at some point in the not too distant future that is likely to change, once utility commissions, power companies and charging station owners figure out who owns what and to whom they can sell it.
The two models closest to maturation in terms of billing electric car owners for their electricity are Coulomb's ChargePoint system, which relies on smart card verification and access. Billing for this service would be relatively simple. Better Place is the other model, though it doesn't actually charge for the electricity delivered, but for the miles of driving range they provide.
Credit and debit card systems are certainly another option, but again the amount of electric power sold essentially amounts to micro-payments measured in cents, not dollars. In these cases, the card processing fees could exceed the actual amount of electric power sold to the consumer.
Enter the mobile telephone.
Last week, two Swedish companies debuted their collaborative application that enables the payment for an electric car recharge from a mobile telephone. Under the auspices of Sustainable Innovation in Sverige AB (SUST), which is the national center for energy efficiency, Accumulate and PayEx demonstrated their mobile phone-based electric car pay-to-charge system.
It works like this: the EV driver plugs their car into a standard, 230V 14 amp outlet mounted on a charging station supplied by Fagerhult (see photo above). Special electronics inside the pole (see photo below) communicates wirelessly with the customer's PayEx mobile phone application. The EV driver enters the charging station's ID number, visible on the stanchion, and then tells the application how much electric power they want to purchase and for how long. The transaction is then displayed on the telephone and the customer presses OK. The agreed upon amount of money is debited from the customer's account to the charging station owner's account. Presumably, PayEx takes the usual cut.
Sustainable Innovation project leader Robert Roos notes that "for the recharging of vehicles we need a secure, easy and cheap alternative for payments instead of using cash and cards. The smartest and most cost effective way we've tested so far is Accumulate’s solution, where customers quickly and easily can pay with their mobile." The Swedish Energy Agency also supports the project.
Debit payment using mobile phones is gaining popularity. More than 50 merchants in the Visby, Sweden test area now accept payments via mobile phones, as do selected merchants in Stockholm and Uppsula.
Charge times for a fully electric vehicle like the TH!NK city at 230V and 14 amps can take upwards of 10-12 hours, according to TH!NK. The price for recharging is currently envisioned as running 2 Swedish Krona's per hour or the equivalent of 25¢ per hour, which is approximately the rate for residential power in Sweden (€0.19/kWh). The charge station will likely purchase its power at the industrial rate in Sweden of (€0.063-0.073/kWh); making their profit on the difference.
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