Nissan has teamed up with Ovo Energy to offer Leaf owners the chance to try out Ovo's new Vehicle-to-Grid Charger for a year. Ovo claims the system will save drivers £350-£400, which is the average annual cost of charging a Leaf via a domestic charger.
Ovo says its smart charger is the world’s first widely available domestic bi-directional car charger. The 6kW system, designed and made in the UK, is capable of automatically managing a car’s battery, charging it up at off-peak times when energy is cheap (about 4p/kWh) and selling energy back at peak times when the price could be four times as high.
The smart charger is a two-way system that automatically enables an electric car to discharge excess energy back to the national grid at times of high demand, and to replenish the car's batteries when demand is low.
A piece of equipment is fitted to the diagnostic port of the car so that it can communicate with the energy supplier, letting them know if car charging can be curtailed when national energy demand is particularly high. Car owners also use a mobile phone app to tell the supplier when they need the car to be fully charged or if they need to temporarily opt out of the intelligent charging programme because they're going on a long journey.
As a safeguard, owners will be able to set a minimum charge that will be left in their car’s batteries so they can be confident that they’ll have enough range to complete their regular journeys.
Ovo chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick stated: “Being able to feed back into the grid will mean that customers will be able to drive for free.”
An added benefit of smart charging is that it should help to prevent the national electricity grid from crashing due to over-demand at peak times. Fitzpatrick commented: “We’re helping to solve one of the biggest challenges facing the energy sector. We’re enabling thousands of EV batteries to help balance the grid in times of peak demand, putting more renewable energy into the system and helping households reduce their electricity bills.”
The offer is part of a two-year trial that’s open to 1000 owners of Leafs and e-NV200 vans from 2013 to present; the first of the charging systems will be fitted in August.
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Electric cars are becoming more mainstream by the day and this trend is only going to accelerate as rules are introduced to limit the kind of vehicles allowed into major cities.
The main thing holding electric cars back remains range anxiety – the fear that you won't have enough juice to get to where you’re going. This is because electric cars can typically cover only about 150 miles between charges and it takes much longer to charge than it does to fill a petrol tank. However, this is slowly becoming less of an issue.
There are already luxury electric cars that can cover more than twice that average distance on a single charge. And even if you can't stretch to one of those, an electric car can still make sense because they're cheap to run and are ideal for short journeys, such as the school run, trips to the shops or a brief commute.
So, which electric cars should you consider? Here, we count down our favourites and tell you which ones to avoid.
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