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Monday, March 22, 2010

UK To Launch Largest Global Electric Car Field Test

IBM along with engineering firms Arup and Ricardo UK will be led three studies that will investigate consumer reactions to electric vehicles, the economics and carbon benefits associated with their mass rollout and the upgrades to the electricity grid and recharging infrastructure that will be required to support large numbers of electric vehicles

The research programme will be a part of the world’s largest field test of electric cars, involving 3,000 cars and 11,000 recharging stations across the United Kingdom.

Big Blue said Friday it had hired Energy Technologies Institute to determine the infrastructure changes necessary to support a mass market for electric cars and plug-in hybrids. The test is to begin next year and continue in 2011.

The project is the result of a number of stars aligning. The British government has agreed to kick in 300 million pounds for infrastructure development and is providing grants of 5,000 pounds to consumers who buy the ultra low-emission vehicles. It is possible a billion pounds of investment will ultimately be needed.

The effort hopes to lead to the development of a smart electric grid capable of handling the recharging a large fleet of cars. Some estimates predict electric cars will consume as much power as an average home running air conditioning on a summer day.

Along with examining infrastructure needs, the study will gauge the potential reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The charging stations will be installed in London, the South East, the Midlands and the North East.

Also involved in the research will be EDF Energy and Imperial Consultants.

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