Your BMW wants email; the Merc wants Netflix

German automakers agree on charging plug, data-networking standard for electric cars

German automakers agreed this week that any electric cars they design will use an electric plug configuration and charging technology that can not only charge a battery, but hook the car to a data network as well.

Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen announced yesterday they will standardize on specifications from the HomePlug Power Alliance in order to create a consistent physical plugs, charging systems and the ability to have two-way conversations with Smart Grid interactive power-distribution systems.

Though Smart Grids don't yet exist in the wild (at least in the U.S.), the German car makers wanted to establish a standard that would work with existing electrical networks and with the intelligent power-distribution systems electric utilities are trying to develop to increase their efficiency keep from having to build new power plants quite as soon as they would otherwise.

The HomePlug Power Alliance is one of two major power-line networking companies basing their product development on a data-networking protocol from IEEE called 1901 Broadband over Power Line, which could theoretically carry as much as 500 Mbit/sec across electrical power lines.

1901 is designed to work as both a LAN protocol inside the home and as a WAN standard to give utilities a greater ability to communicate with power meters or usage governors to distribute power as efficiently as possible at peak times.

The other major power-line group is the HomeGrid Forum, which promotes the ITU-T standard, rather than the HomePlugAV or HomePlug Green PHY specs.

Both claim products built to their specs that run as fast as 200Mbit/sec.

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