Toyota pairing little known housing business with expertise in green cars

Article by Christian A., on October 10, 2010

Toyota wants to help you use energy the most efficient way possible. Dubbed the Toyota Smart Center, this home smart grid system links homes, utilities and vehicles to reduce energy use. Toyota announced last Tuesday that this system will be launched at the same time as the selling date of its plug-in hybrid cars in early 2012.

Toyota’s system indicates on TV screens and mobile handsets how much electricity is being consumed by a household, how much a plug-in vehicle has charged, and how much electricity has been stored in the home.

It also computes the most efficient way of using energy, and reduces waste by turning off gadgets when they aren't being used and optimizing the recharging benefits of hybrids, which recharge as they run.

For example, utilities can be turned on when rates are cheapest such as overnight to heat stored water. Toyota said that these changes may seem minimal but they can add up to considerable savings when combined with computerized monitoring.

According to Shigeki Tomoyama, managing officer, Toyota intends to sell tens of thousands of plug-in hybrids annually and hopes that its smart-grid technology will catch on as well.

Toyota said that compared to a regular home and a gasoline-engine car, the smart grid and a plug-in will cut household energy consumption by up to 75%.

Aside from Toyota, some US states and Ford Motor Co. and General Electric Co., are working on smart grids too. Since the smart center will only work with Toyota's plug-in, this means that it will be no more than a niche product to start with. Toyota has yet to provide details of the system's costs. [via The Detroit News]

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