Saturn Vue Plug-In Hybrid

If you envision your future electric car being connected to the wall with the standard bright orange extension cord, you're living in the past. The growing interest in electric vehicles is already leading to advances in cord technology. To make sure that there's no Blu-Ray versus HD DVD battle between cord types, the Society of Automotive Engineers plans to release standards for car charger cords by next year.

Auto supplier, Yazaki, is currently developing a cord designed for the alternating-current (AC) available at the standard power socket in your home. Previous charger cords supplied direct current (DC), and although they could deliver more power, these cords had to be much larger than the newer AC cords. Yazaki's AC cord is only 4.5 centimeters in diameter.

Electric charging stations won't look like Christmas at the Griswolds either. For electric vehicles to catch on, charging them has to be safe. The new cords won't deliver any power unless a car is connected to them. All of the cords will also have ground fault circuit interrupters to prevent people from frying themselves by charging in wet weather. If you try to drive away from the charger while you're still plugged in, you won't get very far. Electric vehicles (including the Chevy Volt) will disengage the engine until you're unplugged.

Car charger cords will also have a total of five prongs as opposed to the standard three. The two extra prongs will allow the car and the charger to communicate. The power grid will talk to the car battery to ensure that it doesn't blow the battery's circuit and to divide its power efficiently to serve the needs of other plug-in vehicles. The car battery will talk to the power grid to tell it how much power to send.

And we'll all live happily ever after in perfect electric harmony.

Source: Popular Mechanics, Image: Cnet