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China Evergrande plans to bring EV charging technology into the home

[SHANGHAI] China Evergrande Group may be a long way from challenging Tesla Inc, but it's at least thinking about how customers can charge their electric cars more cheaply.

The property developer has established a joint venture with State Grid Corp of China to co-develop smart car-charging technology, according to a statement on Sunday on Evergrande's website.

In China, electric-vehicle (EV) owners pay about three times as much to use public-charging stations as they would to charge their cars at home, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That's because using a public utility pole incurs a bundled commercial power rate and high service fee. What's more, public chargers are scarce, with only around 2.3 chargers per vehicle, and there aren't sufficient in residential areas either.

The venture with State Grid aims to change all that.

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According to Sunday's announcement, Evergrande will imbue all its EVs with vehicle-to-grid technology. Smart-charging plugs will also be located in various residential developments, the statement said, without disclosing any specific locations.

That would allow a user to charge their EV in a residential parking lot overnight, when electricity rates are typically cheaper, the statement said. Then later on, drivers could pump electricity back into the grid and make money.

State Grid has also signed a similar pact with three other major real-estate firms - China Vanke Co, Country Garden Holdings Co and Sunac China Holdings Ltd.

The idea of turning millions of drivers into mini electricity traders is a concept carmakers from Ford Motor Co to BMW AG have long been testing. Each car acts like a back-up battery storage unit, selling power back to the grid when it's most needed and buying it in down periods.

It's a neat concept, and one that would be very useful in the world's largest car market. Now it boils down to the actual EV production Evergrande said would start in June.

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