Electric-car charging infrastructure is a problem that vexes advocates, policymakers, and car companies.

An adequate network of charging stations is key to mass adoption of electric cars, after all.

But what if everyone has been looking at the problem from the wrong angle?

DON'T MISS: Will Nissan Leaf Offer Autonomous Driving Just Like A Tesla? (Nov 2015)

According to Nissan, the solution isn't just to build more charging stations, but to more closely link electric cars with infrastructure to create an energy-transmission continuum.

The electric car will be the "fuel station of the future," the carmaker forecast in a presentation at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show (via Transport Evolved).

Nissan believes this can be achieved by combining electric powertrains with autonomous driving and vehicle-to-grid technologies.



Also known as V2G, vehicle-to-grid systems allow electric cars to discharge energy back into the grid when needed, essentially turning them into mobile storage batteries.

The concept is being tested in the U.S. by entities including the University of Delaware and the U.S. Air Force.

Nissan envisions a "smart street" where autonomous electric cars could park themselves, and recharge automatically from wireless charging stations.

ALSO SEE: U.S. Air Force Unveils Fleet of 42 Electric Vehicles, Nissan Leafs Included, For V2G Tests (Nov 2014)

The cars could reshuffle themselves at night while owners sleep, freeing up the charging spots for other vehicles that need to be topped off.

Cars plugged into home charging stations could also provide power to buildings when needed, according to Nissan.

And used Leaf battery packs could enter a second life in energy storage, allowing buildings to get more of their electricity from renewable sources.



Energy-storage battery packs maximize the effectiveness of solar panels by collecting excess energy and storing it for later use.

Nissan is already experimenting with this. Last year, it announced a partnership with Green Charge Networks to deploy used lithium-ion battery packs for energy storage, both in the U.S. and internationally.

The same concept could also be applied to offices, Nissan claims.

MORE: Chevy, Nissan Reveal Second-Life Uses For Electric-Car Batteries (Jun 2015)

Its Geneva presentation predicts a future where office workers drive their cars directly into buildings, where they're whisked away to park in giant vending-machine like structures.

Under this scenario, cars could charge during the workday, or discharge some power from their battery packs to help power the building.

Nissan believes this combination of autonomous electric cars and V2G infrastructure will ultimately make renewable energy more affordable and available.



It will also free up space currently occupied by parking lots and fuel stations, the company claims.

The seeds for this infrastructure are certainly in place, in the form of electric cars, the nascent energy-storage industry, and research into self-driving cars and V2G.

But the amount of coordination among carmakers, electrical utilities, governments, and property owners seems fairly daunting.

And cooperation among all of those parties will be necessary to achieve such a complex, interconnected energy infrastructure.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter