Electric Vehicles

OnStar Using Chevrolet Volts in Google’s 'Gfleet' to Demonstrate Technology

January 23, 2012

DETROIT – Chevrolet Volt owners could soon charge their car with renewable energy using new technology from OnStar. OnStar and Google are working together to demonstrate the technology on the 17 Chevrolet Volts in Google’s “Gfleet” based at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

The technology is enabled as OnStar receives a signal from PJM Interconnection that shows the percentage of available renewable energy on the grid. PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia. Data from PJM's forecast is downloaded to the OnStar cloud, or Advanced Telematics Operating Management System (ATOMS). OnStar uses this signal to simultaneously manage the charging of many Volts and to match the renewable energy availability. 

A mobile app could also be used to alert customers when renewable energy is available.

“This demonstration shows that in the near future customers will have a real signal of demand for renewable energy,” said Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development. “As customers configure their Volts to favor renewable energy for their charging cycle, this real demand signal will influence utilities to tap into renewable sources."

The demonstrations are taking place this week at the 2012 DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio. DistribuTECH attendees can see live demos at Booth 1543. OnStar will also be demonstrating the company’s Demand Response and Time-of-Use Rate solutions.

PJM data shows that peak time for renewable energy generation from wind is generally between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. It would be possible for customers to use OnStar’s Smart Grid solutions to further reduce their carbon footprint and save money by charging during these off-peak times. 

“Solutions like this one will ultimately lead to increased renewable energy generation and allow Chevrolet Volt owners to be a key part of that energy transformation,” said Pudar.

If the renewable energy service goes into production, customers interested in using it would simply need to sign up. OnStar would then regulate their charging using the renewable energy signal.

The renewable energy technology is the latest addition to OnStar’s suite of Smart Grid solutions.

OnStar has also developed intelligent energy management technology solutions including:

  • Demand response – This solution connects utilities to companies that have intelligent energy management products. These companies can use OnStar to manage energy use for Volt customers who opt in for the service. This future service allows the customer to save money on energy costs while enabling more efficient use of the electric grid.
  • Time-of-Use (TOU) rates – OnStar can receive TOU pricing from utilities and notify Volt owners of the rate plan offers via email. Owners will be able to use OnStar to load the rate plans directly into their vehicle and access them to schedule charging during lower-rate periods.
  • Charging data – OnStar also sends and receives EV data that helps utility providers without having to interface with the vehicle’s electric vehicle supply equipment. This includes location-based EV data that identifies charging locations and determines potential load scenarios.

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