Toyota and Duke enter Smart-er car deal

A pilot program could lead to a smarter power grid and help the owners of plug-in cars save money. Duke Energy, Toyota and Energy Systems Network have partnered to learn how to synchronize the power grid with the needs of those who own plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. In addition, the program is expected to help electric car owners save money on their power bills, which can sometimes spike if they charge their cars at certain times of day. David Mohler of Duke Energy says the program will test a system that uses "smart" technology to charge cars. Starting in early 2013, five people in Duke Energy‘s coverage area in Indianapolis will receive a plug-in Toyota Prius to drive for the next year. Their electricity use will be monitored, and the Duke Energy charging stations at their homes will use a system that only charges the car during non-peak hours of electricity use. Mohler says most people plug in their cars during peak usage hours, when power rates for Duke Energy and most other utilities are higher. Duke and Toyota will use the findings to place the "smart" technology throughout their system and in Toyota‘s plug-in vehicles in future years.