General Electric and Nissan, keen on advancing plug-in vehicles, are looking for ways to make electric cars part of a home energy system.
The two companies on Friday signed a two-year research collaboration to speed up deployment of electric vehicles, an extension to an agreement announced last year.
The research will look at whether stored energy can automatically supply a house during peak times, when electricity rates are higher. GE and Nissan also said they will explore whether solar panels can directly charge car batteries.
Another area of research will model how large numbers of electric vehicles, which pull about as much power as a whole house, affects management of the grid for utilities.
GE is expected to launch its Nucleus home energy management system this year. It revolves around a hub about the size of a phone charger that connects wirelessly to a smart meter, networked appliances, and potentially EV charging stations. GE's WattStation home and public charge points are also expected to be released this year.
Separately, GE's director of global research, Mark Little, said Friday that the company is in the "thinking stage" of renting electric vehicle batteries. "The life span and the performance of the batteries is not well understood. We may be better off owning the asset," he said, according to a Reuters report.