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Spotlight on Electric Vehicles

Smart Grid

June 14, 2010

Spotlight on Electric Vehicles

By Jon Arnold (ICP)
Co-founder, Intelligent Communications Partners
I recently cited an upcoming conference solely focused on the electric vehicle space, and as the date approaches, it's a good time to say more about it. The event is the Electric Vehicle Consumer Adoption Summit, and is put together by IQPC (News - Alert), a well-known conference producer. While our Smart Grid Summit has a fairly broad scope, this event is narrow but deep. We have one panel in our program about electric vehicles, and it's one of the sessions I'm most looking forward to.

For that reason I'd like to tell you a bit more about this conference. This is one of the most exciting areas of smart grid and will have far reaching implications, not just for utilities, but for our everyday behaviors. While it's a given how important the electric vehicle will be for auto-centric North America, the opportunity is in fact even greater in emerging markets like China and India. As an example, for the first time ever, the United States was passed by China in 2009 as the largest auto market in the world.
It's also important to note this conference is built around the consumer auto market. This will certainly be the primary focus for utilities, and it's not hard to see how an entire event can be devoted to the various touchpoints they need to consider. Before continuing on this point, it's also worth noting that the electric vehicle opportunity is even larger. Beyond plug-in hybrid and pure electric passenger cars for consumers, there are also light and heavy duty vehicles, commercial car fleets, passenger transport vehicles, low speed carts, scooters, etc. The more you think about it, the bigger this space becomes.
Coming back to the event, over the course of three days, the relationship between electric vehicles and utilities will be widely explored. For starters, the outlook for oil as a preferred energy source will be examined and from there the prospects for emerging battery-based alternatives will be addressed. Lots to talk about there. Stepping back, there are some bigger picture issues around how electric vehicles will connect to the grid and all the economic ramifications around this. Building on this is the overarching topic of regulations and policy which sets the foundation for both auto makers and energy producers to follow.
As you can imagine, over the course of this event, we'll be touching on a lot of important topics. I don't usually talk up other smart grid events, but in the case, I'm going to be right in the middle of everything. First, I'll be moderating a session on Day 2 at 10:30 - Forming Strategic Partnerships - that should be interesting. We'll be exploring the important links between utilities and the technology partnerships they must forge to be successful in this market. Certainly, from our communications/IT vantage point, we know how important this has been for telcos, and it's really no different for utilities. If anything, it will be more important, as this territory is not really their strong suit, so they won't necessarily be dealing from a position of strength.
I'll also be playing a bigger picture role, as I have just been invited to Chair this event. As such, I'll be welcoming attendees to the conference and making opening and closing remarks. I'm very much looking forward to this, especially for the opportunity to be in the midst of so many key utilities, vendors and government agencies that will collectively have a lot to do with what the electric vehicle is going to mean to you and me.
Personally, my car lease is up in August, and in all my years of driving, I've never had so many interesting choices to make. For the first time, my options will be driven more by how my car is powered than what brand or model or features most catch my eye. I'm certainly not alone here, and I think we all know that the whole business of buying a car is in the process of changing radically. I'm looking forward to the journey, and maybe I'll see you at this event. In short, the event runs from June 21 to 23 in San Francisco, and you can get all the details in the link I cited earlier.

Jon Arnold is co-founder of Intelligent Communications Partners (News - Alert) (ICP), a strategic advisory consultancy focused on the emerging Smart Grid opportunity. To read more of his Smart Grid articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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