The real significance of the world's first smart-grid ready car



By Jesse Berst


Back in November, SGN alerted you to what Cadillac calls "the world's first smart-grid ready car." Now we're back to point out the significance of that announcement.


I'm not sure that Cadillac's new ELR will truly be smart-grid ready. It merely has a plug (to charge the battery) and on-board communications (from OnStar) that could, in theory, be used to connect to a utility's smart charging program. And it has the ability to schedule when charging takes place. If you live in an area with time-of-use rates, you could schedule charging during off-peak hours when rates were lower.


True, the vehicles does come with OnStar's Smart Grid Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). In theory, a utility (or third-party provider) could use those APIs to automate the smart charging function and put it under utility control.


But even if the release is more semantics than reality, it is notable for its use of "smart-grid ready" as a positive attribute. For years, the term smart grid has been at best a neutral "what's that?" in the minds of consumers. Now we have one of the world's top luxury brands touting the smart grid as something beneficial and future friendly. We call that progress.


The progress we'd really like to see is an industry standard for smart charging, so vehicles like the ELR can support that single standard with confidence that it will work seamlessly with any utility.


Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.