Published July 25, 2012
By Huw Evans
General Motors and OnStar are teaming up to monitor real world charging and driving among EV motorists in a unique residential setting known as Pecan Street.
Part of a 700-acre development in Austin, Texas, known as the Muller community, Pecan Street inhabitants are volunteers who offered to be part of a sustainable residential project, living in houses designed to be the last word in efficiency, sporting features such as rooftop mounted solar collectors.
Last year, Chevrolet provided 100 residents of Pecan Street with Chevrolet Volts to drive, while other companies, such as Intel, Oncor, Sony and Whirlpool are also providing smart grid and clean energy appliances and equipment for the homes involved in the experiment.
As for the Volts, they represent the largest concentration of EVs in a single location in the U.S., and researchers are therefore eager to see how the families operating these cars interact with the smart grid and other sustainable technologies within their homes on a daily basis.
By partnering with each other on the project, GM and OnStar will enable on-site researchers from the automaker and others from the Environmental Defense Fund, National Renewal Energy Laboratory and University of Texas to study the impact the Volts have on home energy consumption as well as monitoring the habits of vehicle usage and charging among residents of Pecan Street.
According to Nick Pudar; OnStar’s vice president of Strategy and Business Development, the partnership with GM “provides us with a unique opportunity to observe charging details with many real customers in a concentrated setting,” as well as discovering “the direct impact the Volt has on the grid and how to get drivers the lowest-possible charging rates.” He also said “[this] project will also help us develop future capabilities of the Volt and other plug-in electric vehicles.”
One of the first tests slated for the GM/OnStar research program, will be to marry data gathered from home consumption with the Volt’s vehicle consumption in order to optimize entire home energy costs for each household. “We’re excited to leverage our Smart Grid APIs with other partners in this project,” Pudar said.