October 17, 2011

A new smartphone app will help electric car drivers charge their cars and monitor their energy use with their phones. IBM is partnering with a Swiss energy company on a pilot project that will let drivers choose between fossil fuel or renewable electricity to charge their cars. A simple four button interface also shows the vehicle’s battery level, range of travel distance, vehicle location, charge schedule and energy costs in real time. Even if the car owners are far away from the vehicle, the phone app will let them check whether the car’s battery is sufficient for its next use and program to start battery charging.

IBM says the phone app communicates with the vehicle and power companies to let drivers know when the most wind, solar and hydro electricity is being produced and enable drivers to schedule charging during those times. The pilot program is being tested in Switzerland where 55 percent of electricity is from renewable sources.

In the pilot project, real-time production data of photovoltaic solar panels at a Swiss energy company is transmitted to IBM’s cloud. An electric vehicle connected to the grid is charged when solar electricity is being produced.