Software links EVs with home-energy management

  • 17-Mar-2011 01:31 EDT
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Tendril’s software makes the vehicle an integral part of the owner’s home energy-management program.

Telematics providers are devising new techniques to create synergistic applications for electric vehicles. Tendril Inc., a company that provides software that links consumers and smart-grid providers, is offering tools that will make cars an integral part of an owner’s environmental efforts.

Telematics providers view EVs as a strong potential market in large part because most owners will want to use telematics to find the locations of charging stations. Analysts predict that telematic penetration will be far higher than in conventional vehicles. Frost & Sullivan predicts that 80% of EVs sold in 2015 will have telematic links. ABI Research expects 23% acceptance for conventional vehicles in 2015.

Tendril, founded in 2004 to provide software and services to utility companies and their customers, is now focusing on EVs. The firm recently shared booth space with OnStar, showing how its software integrated a Chevrolet Volt with a home energy-management system.

“Consumers who purchase an EV are clearly interested in managing their energy consumption. We showed how an energy-centric product, the EV, could be integrated with the home’s energy-management system,” said Dennis Kyle, Strategic and New Market Development for Tendril.

He noted that Tendril has no formal relationship with OnStar or General Motors, though the Boulder, CO, company is actively talking with a number of automakers and telematics providers.

The company’s software could also be used in conventional vehicles to link homes and vehicles. “This improves energy efficiency; the home acts in concert with the vehicle’s location, adjusting the temperature and turning lights on or off based on the location of the vehicle,” Kyle said.

For EVs, the software could also charge the vehicle at the most efficient times. The software can also alter home consumption at times when vehicles need to be charged for imminent use.

“A parent who’s running errands all day and needs the EV charged in the afternoon to pick up kids may power down the air-conditioning to manage overall consumption,” Kyle said. “This software lets automakers connect with customers, who can lower the overall cost of Volt ownership by impacting the home’s utility bill.”

Tendril is also talking with utility companies that could offer the software to EV owners who do not have the company’s software so they can perform similar tasks. Kyle added that ease of use will be a key factor in the acceptance of any software. “Consumers want to set it once and forget it, but they also want it to be adaptable,” he said.

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