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Toyota Links Battery Cars, Home With Smart Center

System to improve charging, reduce energy usage.

by on Oct.07, 2010

When the Prius plug-in comes to market, in 2012, Japanese buyers will be able to link it to the home.

Toyota is releasing a new system, dubbed Smart Center, that is says will reduce energy usage at home while making it easier to charge one of the maker’s upcoming battery-electric vehicles.

Smart Center, one of the first so-called “smart grid” systems, could cut energy consumption in a home by as much as 75%, the maker claims.

The technology will be available in Japan, where Toyota is already in the housing business.  It is unclear whether it will make the Smart Center available in the U.S. or other parts of the world, but there are a number of other companies, including software giant Microsoft, that are coming up with similar technologies that let consumers see where energy is going in their homes and offer a way to reduce usage.

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The timing of the Toyota Smart Center launch isn’t random.  It debuts just as the maker gets ready to bring its first plug-in electric vehicle to market.  A version of the Toyota Prius, it is already in fleet testing around the world and will make a retail debut in 2012.