General Electric and Nissan plan to research "smart charging" technologies for electric vehicles to help consumers take advantage of cheaper electricity rates and keep the power grid stable.
The two companies on Monday announced a memorandum of understanding to undertake research mainly at GE's Niskayuna, N.Y., smart-grid lab for three years. The first phase of the work will focus on integrating electric car charging with homes and buildings. The second phase will work on integrating electric vehicles in the power grid, according to the companies.
"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," said Mark Little, the president and director of GE Global Research, in a statement.
Nissan last week began taking orders for the Nissan Leaf, an all-electric sedan that can go about 100 miles. The automaker plans to start delivery of the car in the U.S. and Japan by the end of the year.
As these plug-in vehicles come to market, though, people in the auto and utility industries say there still are a few issues that need to be cleared up to make the transition smooth for car owners.
In a blog post, GE scientist Matt Nielsen, who is taking the lead on the smart-charging research, said that GE and Nissan will seek to sort out which challenges are real and which are perceived by using computer simulations and gathering data.
Among the challenges Nielsen sees are equipping homes with the appropriate wiring for car charging, administering low-cost metering plans from utilities, and managing car cables so people don't trip over them. … Read more