A Nissan Leaf gets recharged

Preparing for the brave new world where the number of plug-in vehicles looking for a charge grows high enough to match to the current electricity supply, one study from China's Sichuan University is suggesting a novel concept. It's called the honor system, and it might one day be needed to prevent the plug-in vehicle version of a brown-out.

The study, found by Technology Review, says electricity systems will need to be programmed with algorithms to best serve all the plug-in vehicle drivers looking to charge up for their respective commutes. Currently, everything is first-come, first-served. The study suggests that when this solution stops working, utilities could move on to what's essentially a round-robin system where available juice gets rotated through all users but which would cause substantial delays for everyone involved.

The ultimate system, though, would involved the utility system being able to factor in each driver's expected commuting distance and scheduled departure time. That way, electricity can be sent to those who need it the most, with no superfluous power supplied until everyone is taken care of. Of course, that would require drivers to submit their driving requirements accurately and honestly. Which brings with it an entirely new set of EV hurdles.

For those keeping track, Navigant (formerly Pike) said last June that annual global plug-in vehicle totals would reach three million by the end of the decade and would account for about three percent of all light-duty vehicles by then.