Yesterday, Qualcomm took the stage at the Plug-In 2010 conference in San Jose, an annual event showcasing many of the key players in the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem from electric utilities, to charging station manufacturers, software providers, automakers and others. During the Smart Grid Technology and Integration session, Ignacio Contreras from our Corporate New Business Development group discussed the role that cellular technologies can have in enabling electric cars and charging infrastructure in the future.
During his panel session Ignacio discussed how cellular connectivity is critical to the EV ecosystem and early traction for cellular technologies in the space. For example, electric cars such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf will include cellular-based telematics as a standard feature. Furthermore, many charging stations will be equipped with cellular modems. Lastly, electric vehicles will need to be networked to an electric network to allow a litany of the required functions of an EV including: location and reservation of chargers, vehicle and user authentication, remote control of car functions and monitoring of the charging process, billing, energy demand management and the provision of ancillary services for the grid.
Ignacio also discussed EVs being connected via 2G or 3G; with more favor being weighed on 3G technologies due to lower latency, higher throughput and the expected life of 3G networks. While the cost of 2G modules might be lower, Ignacio clarified that module costs represent a minor fraction of the total cost of ownership for charging station operators compared with the connectivity cost. And given that transferring data over 2G networks utilizes voice capacity, carriers might be willing to offer lower costs for data plans by using 3G connectivity.