The Nissan Leaf electric vehicle has greenies buzzing in anticipation, and the automaker has joined GE in a partnership to develop the “smart charging” technology to keep the Leaf, and other EVs, rolling.
Many of those pondering an electric vehicle simply want to plug it into a wall outlet and forget about it. Most people fail to think about what’s on the other side of that plug and how it can be efficiently maximized for optimal charging and use of the grid. General Motors and Ford are among the automakers working alongside utilities to ensure the nation’s electrical grid can handle the coming influx of cars with cords. And Nissan is working with Ecotality to create charging infrastructure in several states.
The two companies announced on Monday that they have signed a three-year agreement to develop the technology needed to build a robust and reliable charging infrastructure. They will collaborate in two key areas. The first addresses the integration of electric vehicles with homes and buildings. The second concentrates on electric vehicle charging dynamics with the grid.
“In the past few years, we have seen an acceleration of innovations in plug-in hybrid and electric cars that have sparked a revolution in smart-charging technologies. Together with Nissan, we will take a comprehensive look at what technologies will be needed in the car, on the grid and at home or work to make smart charging a reality,” Mark Little, senior vice president and director of GE Global Research, said in a statement.
So-called “smart charging” technology essentially would allow EVs to “communicate” with local utilities to ensure they’re charging when electricity is cheapest and the impact on the grid is smallest. The increased efficiency would lead to cheaper energy for the EV owner and a more stable grid for the rest of us.
The two companies will combine their collective expertise — GE’s experience with electricity at all levels of generation and distribution, and Nissan’s experience with electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf slated to appear in showrooms at the end of this year. Much of GE’s work will be done at the centers R&S center in Niskayuna, New York, while Nissan will work from its technical centers in Farmington Hills, Michigan and in Japan. The two companies will in the coming months identify specific projects to collaborate on.
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