Plug-in Prius + Smart Grid powered home = Cost Effectiveness?
Plugging into cheaper home utility costs
I’ve read about Toyota’s smart grid technology in the past, and like other smart grid applications, it’s very impressive and intriguing. Unfortunately, it’s the upfront cost of plug-in vehicles that is most problematic, not the after-sale energy costs. Ultimately, a Nissan Versa and a lifetime of gasoline is still cheaper than a Nissan Leaf and free electricity for life, even after a $7500 tax credit.
To be sure, that might not be enough to offset the extra costs of plug-in technology, but it does highlight some key areas for plug-in hybrid focus:
First, home owners are THE key demographic for plug-in vehicles in the short term. Forget plug-in infrastructure. Focus on plug-in hybrids and smart home charging.
Second, plug-ins are NOT cost effective. Let me repeat that. Plug-ins are not cost-effective. Let’s not play games on that one. If we build them, only a few will come. That’s a fact. However, if viewed from a more wholistic viewpoint, then plug-ins might make more sense, especially when coupled with other green technologies, such as solar and wind power.
In fact, Toyota has something very interesting going on with their smart grid technology. While the research claims that plug-ins are not cost-effective it does suggest that if dynamic charging were a reality, then small battery plug-in hybrids could achieve cost-effectiveness.
But is dynamic charging the only option outside of a battery breakthrough?
Seriously, dynamic charging probably isn’t going to happen any time soon. Yet, perhaps a combination of small battery plug-in hybrids and smart metering technology might come close to achieving market-share-increasing cost-effectiveness. Add in some solar, wind or geothermal power and this convergence of technologies might actually make financial sense.
It doesn’t have to be all about lithium and dynamic charging breakthroughs, but it should be all about cost-effectiveness.
Ultimately, the race to electrification and battery-powered cars will not be easy. In all reality, it will probably take decades. Thus, plug-in tax credits might be completely irrelevant, while plug-in + solar + smart meter tax credits, on the other hand, might actually achieve real world viability.