Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announced the development of the TOYOTA Smart Center, a system that links homes, vehicles, electric power companies and users, and enables integrated control of energy consumption. TMC developed the system as a part of its smart-grid initiatives, which are intended to support efficient energy use toward the realization of a low-carbon society.

The TOYOTA Smart Center uses plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) – both of which are expected to gain greater use – and home energy management system (HEMS)-equipped smart houses to monitor and coordinate energy used by the vehicles and houses involved, the electricity supplied by the power company, as well as the electricity generated by the houses from, for example, solar panels. It also enables remote monitoring and coordination by providing information to the people using the vehicles and houses.

Specifically, the system collates information transmitted from a household-linked PHV or EV regarding remaining vehicle-battery charge, household power consumption information transmitted by the HEMS, weather forecast data and charge-rate information for specific time segments from the power company. In this way the system can coordinate vehicle recharging and household energy consumption with an aim to minimize CO2 emissions and reduce electricity costs. Furthermore, with a smart phone, users can remotely check the current battery charge of their vehicle and the distance it could travel, adjust the charging time or turn the air-conditioning on or off to ready the car for use. As for the house, the system monitors power consumption, solar-panel electricity production, battery charge and Eco Cute* hot water volume; it also enables users to remotely control their batteries and water heater.

The system can also optimize energy consumption based on users' lifestyles and automatically control vehicle-battery charging and water-heater use to systematically and reliably make possible energy-saving lifestyles.

Under the Rokkasho Village smart grid demonstration project that began on September 16, TMC is conducting trials of the TOYOTA Smart Center in two houses constructed by Toyota Housing Corporation linked with eight PHVs. Trials will be conducted over approximately two years to improve the system. TMC hopes to market similar systems with PHVs scheduled for launch in early 2012 and with some Toyota Housing homes.

With the TOYOTA Smart Center, TMC aims to link people, homes and vehicles to support the development of a low-carbon society and the establishment of more comfortable and environmentally conscious living.

*An electric heat pump water-heater system