Illustration of Focus Electric courtesy of Ford.

Illustration of Focus Electric courtesy of Ford.

The Electric Power Research Institute is coordinating a test with eight global automakers of an advanced software platform that would allow plug-in electric vehicles to communicate to utilities via the cloud when charging is complete.

The cloud-based software platform advanced EV charging by allowing the vehicle's owner to automatically charge the vehicle during off-peak hours to reduce costs and adjust charging loads to accommodate the intermittent availability of renewable energy sources such as solar and thermal. A California law requires renewable energy sources to provide 33 percent of electricity generation by 2020.

The test of the so-called Smart Grid will involve a public demonstration of the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) platform on Oct. 16 at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's customer service center. The platform was developed by EPRI and Sumitomo Electric Industries.

The automakers participating in the initiative include BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, and Toyota.