A smart system for charging electric vehicles known as ELVIIS may leave the electric car industry all shook up - and for the better. The ELVIIS cross-industry research project would not only enable EVs to be recharged from any available outlet, but also use mobile and smart grid technology to establish the best energy deal for the consumer.

Short for Electric Vehicle Intelligent Infra Structure, ELVIIS is a research consortium including Volvo Car Corporation and Ericsson that aims to overcome the practical shortcomings of EVs that may stand in the way of mass market uptake, looking beyond the car itself to the spheres of mobile and smart grid technology.

As part of the ELVIIS project, a Volvo C30 Electric has been fitted out with a 7-inch color touchscreen from which the company's "smooth charging" concept can be controlled. Having plugged in, the driver uses the touchscreen (or separate phone or tablet) to choose between various presets for charge duration or total energy drawn. It's at the stage the mobile technology kicks in to optimize the process, invisibly from the driver's point of view.

First, the charge point is identified using GPS technology. The car will then communicate with the electricity grid based on user settings to establish the best energy price. The grid coordinates between connected cars (as well as other energy uses) to optimize the work it has to do.

This should mean that drivers needing a brief but urgent charge will be prioritized over those parking up for a some time - similar to broader strategies being employed in smart grids that seek to even out the peaks and troughs in energy consumption over the course of the day. This increases grid efficiency, and increases the usefulness and viability of renewable energy sources that aren't guaranteed to contribute at all times.

There are one or two other neat user-centric touches. The driver will be notified of any interruptions to the charging via a message sent to their mobile phone. And drivers will be able to have the bill of the charge redirected and added to their utility bill, which should ease suspicious minds when house guests ask if they can plug in their new EV.

The system will be fitted to a total of five Volvo C30 Electric cars and tested over the course of a year. Energy company Göteborg Energi and IT researchers the Viktoria Institute are the remaining partners in the ELVIIS project.

The ELVIIS-fitted Volvo Electric C30 is currently on display at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, so if you're in the area, it's now or never.

Sources: Volvo, Ericsson