## GM and Electric Utility Industry Launch Collaboration in Support of Commercializing Plug-in Vehicles

##### 22 July 2008
 Saturn Vue PHEV plugging in to a Coulomb Chargepoint (earlier post) in San Jose, CA. Click to enlarge.

General Motors and the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)—with the support of more than 30 of the top electric utilities in the United States and Canada—launched a new collaboration to accelerate the introduction of plug-in electric vehicles.

General Motors, EPRI and the utility companies will work on everything from codes and standards to grid capability to provide an infrastructure to support the Chevy Volt, the Saturn Vue Plug-in Hybrid and other plug-in vehicles when they come to market. Details of the alliance—the largest and most-comprehensive yet between an automaker and the electric utility industry—were announced in San Jose during the Plug-In 2008 Conference.

Among the many things the coalition will address include ensuring safe and convenient vehicle charging, raising the public awareness and understanding of plug-in electric vehicles, and working with public policy leaders to enable a transition from petroleum to electricity as a fuel source.

The coalition of utility companies plays a critical role in developing universal technical standards that will facilitate ease of use and commercial feasibility of electric vehicles. The utilities in the collaboration provide service in 37 states, helping to ensure that plug-ins are not constrained by lack of infrastructure to only certain sectors of the country.

EPRI is pleased to collaborate with GM and utility leaders in electric transportation to work together in advancing plug-in hybrid electric vehicle transportation. This collaboration is critical in the development of standards that will lead to the widespread use of electricity as a transportation fuel.

—Arshad Mansoor, Vice President of EPRI’s Power Delivery & Utilization sector

Last month, GM, along with EPRI, received a conditional award from the US Department of Energy to create a plug-in demo program using the Saturn Vue.

Last week, the Japanese government announced a collaboration of nine automakers and motorcycle manufacturers, six battery makers and Tokyo Electric Power Co to fomrulate standards for automotive lithium-ion batteries.  A draft of the standards will be developed under the lead of an organization affiliated with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The companies aim to pitch their specifications to the International Organization for Standardization, with the goal of creating the global yardstick for lithium ion batteries in vehicles. (Earlier post.)

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Is the US completely mad to have a islamist at such a high position in an organisation that wil form an altenative to oil? Oil is the only way the middel east gets to blackmail the west. They won't let an alternative ruin thier influance.

I think Hydrogen cars are the only real alternative to Gas. I can't help thinking that GM are barking up the wrong tree. Remember, most electricity comes from fossil fuels so you're not eradicating the problem; just slowing it down.

The point of electricity is that it can come from lots of sources: fossil, alternative, nuclear.

Plus, the domestic distribution network is already in place.

Plus, if you have battery storage, you can charge at the most economical time, when electricity is more or less being wasted - unless you are doing a road trip or driving an 18 wheeler.

Thus, for most daily tasks EVs should suffice. For long range runs, liquid fuelled ICE driven vehicles will be a better solution.

The trick may be to rent / borrow / share ICE vehicles for occasional long runs and use EVs for the day to day runs.

All we need are the batteries and reasonable looking cars.

mahonj:

I'm tempted to agree with you. BEVs will be resttricted to city usage until such time as batteries performance are improved enough to supply 300 miles range between quick charges.

However, PHEVs with enough batteries to go 20 to 50 miles and with very light weight on-board multi-fuel ICE power generator for longer trips, should be considered as valuable short-mid term solution.

non-dhimmi

I wasn't aware that Bangladesh was such a huge oil exporter.

I am part of a campaign to General Motors to become Green Motors. Check it out here: http://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/save-general-motors-and-the-planet-at-the-same-time

General Motors is falling apart, losing billions, and in jeopardy of going out of business. If we can convince them that there is a viable market for them taking drastic action to convert their cars and trucks to being the most environmentally efficient in the world, they have nothing to lose by unconditionally embracing the green movement.

@Andrew

Try this idea on for size. GM will sell “Big Iron” 6.2L V8s in equal measure to match Volt sales so that they just meet the corporate CAFE mileage standard. Those $100,000 cars are where the profit lies and that is where GM wants be. Axil, GM may try to sell "big iron," but they have to have buyers. For those of us two car families, a BEV with 50 mile range and 55mph max would be great as our next purchase. After all we already have a second ICE vehicle for distance while we wait for better long-distance options to develop. Everyone talks about having an onboard ICE for longer trips. WHY? Why not have an output ICE mounted on a trailer or special compartment where you can add it for longer trips? Dont carry the weight all the time wasting battery power. Just carry it when you need it. Like the TZero had a generator trailer it used to drive to Las Vegas. That made lots of sense to me. You have the outboard ICE charge a bank of batteries while you are using the other bank. Then you switch over when you need to. This allows you to drastically reduce weight when you are just commuting local. The GM bashers are out in force today. Anything even wholly good, is STILL criticized. The good things with trying to establish standards, is it is a sign that the technology is successful, and approaching some degree of maturity. The GM and Japanese efforts are welcome. I'm glad that MITI is suggesting that the Japanese proposed standards contribute to an ISO standard. I worked on the ISO/OSI seven layer communications model, at Session layer 5, and I recognize that such a process is useful. Standardization wasn't possible until tough, thorough, understanding, of the real properties of "communication" on a theoretical basis is understood. Similarly, I have always thought that toxic emissions regulations for autos needs to adopt an ISO standard for what genuine pollutants need control and to what degree. Were we to do so, any auto built to such a standard ought to be available for sale worldwide. It would also serve to 'pull-up' the tail-enders to some level of emissions control. I'm sure that the other automakers wil be happy to have a standard that they are to small to implement themselves, to be adopted. Their suppliers will build standard conforming pieces, and make it cheaper and easier for them to advance their own technology within that context. Bobt, I think there would be a market for the trailer ICE generator, but it would be a niche market and in the short to mid-term, E-REV's with an internal ICE to augment the BEV range of 20-50 miles will be what will sell in larger numbers. The Chevy Volt looks to be the first to arrive since the iMiev is just too small at about a foot shorter LOA than the Mini. And the plug in Prius is only going to have 7-12 mile range, which is good, just not as good as the Volt. If the Volt is built. If GM builds the Volt, I will be buying it in early 2011, along with a wind generator. No more of my money goes to OPEC. ".. all we need are good batteries and nice looking cars..." hehehe. That's like saying all we need for skiing is snow and a hill to go down (what else is there?). I am not convinced that a plug-in battery-only vehicle will be available that satisfies the public's need for all of: distance between recharging (300mi+), charge-time (< 5min.), fuel cost (<$30/per 300mi), durability (1500+ base recharges before replace), acceleration (0-60 less than 10sec in 2500lbs vehicle), convenience (grid recharge after/before work/trip), torque/trailer, cold/wet weather start, highway passing speeds, overall cost (<10% more than ICE car), non-home convenience (yeah, like work will let you charge-up on their dime)... before a H2 infrastructure is available to 50%+ of western countries' pop.

Hydrogen (with plug-in support) out of the home is the most stable and substantial US passenger vehicle fleet long-term upgrade. Available to 10% by 2017, 50% by 2030.

@ JMartin

They will launch the new Camaro in 2010. There must be a market for that.

http://www.chevrolet.com/camaro/

@stan

I worked on the ISO/OSI seven layer communications model, at Session layer 5, …. real properties of "communication" on a theoretical basis is understood.

You were never able to get to the real needs of the customer.

DOD wanted and got TCP/IP that you are using on the WEB right now. What happened?

most electricity comes from fossil fuels
First ask yourself how much US electricity comes from non-fossil fuels. Then ask yourself how much hydrogen comes from non-fossil fuels.

Reality is quite an experience, isn't it?

I live in a city that does not use any fossil fuels for electricity and there are almost 5 million people here. 2 electric companies APS which is Palo Verde and SRP that is mostly hydro. The car companies could sell a 1 million electric cars here if they wanted to.

This idea is crap.

It's single phase 110v 15 a and two way. Great for modulating small fluctuations in the power line, but useless for charging a 40 kWh battery in a BEV. Worse, you get to pay a monthly subscription fee just to use it!

We need a 3 Phase 220 v 100 a service that you plug into then swipe a credit card to turn on. Anything less is a joke.

I am glad there are start-up companies like Tesla Motors building all-electric battery powered cars. But I believe that for long-established companies like GM, the plug-in hybrid is the best bet at least in the near term. The technology is a lot closer at hand and GM can't afford to wait until all electric battery powered or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles become practical. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles may be the ultimate solution, but it will be our great-grandchildren driving them. I think we should consider T. Boone Pickens' plan to use natural gas for vehicle fuel and replace natural gas produced electricity with wind-generated electricity in the Great Plains states from Texas to North Dakota. I would add solar thermal electric plants in the Desert Southwest to the mix as well. Natural gas could be augmented and eventually replaced by bio-methane. How about bio-methane fueled plug-in hybrids? It could possibly alleviate some of the range issues that face all-electric and all natural gas powered vehicles.

Volt and Saturn VUE Plug-In (sales start late 2009) will be bought initially by early adopters who are dedicated to PHEV lifestyle. That just means they know when and where their recharge points are. Most likely at home and at work. Should they need to make an unscheduled 50 mile excursion - the genset is onboard and kicks in. Modular car parts are for geeks - no offense meant.

What is becoming clear is the increasing resistance from big oil and their distribution system to do anything that would jeopardize their fossil sales. Thus we don't see E-85 at gas stations, nor do I expect to see EV charge points. But, if enough people driving PHEVs need sustainable energy - they will be forced to install them. In the end, by keeping gas prices high - they're unwittingly hastening their own demise.

Oil has now managed to piggy onto T Boone Picken's wind farm plan to try to get us all to convert to CNG. At $13,000. a conversion and US average cost of$3.00 gallon, CNG is no bargain. Boone's wind farm is excellent - his CNG plan is a backdoor fossil fuel play.

Watch closely over the next few months to see who sides with T Boone Pickens and the fossil part of his plan. They are those resisting the transition underway to the new sustainable campaign - Global Energy Independence - which realistically replaces global warming.

"What is becoming clear is the increasing resistance from big oil and their distribution system to do anything that would jeopardize their fossil sales. Thus we don't see E-85 at gas stations"

Actually the reasons you are not seeing E-85 at any gas stations in your area are;
1) It's not easy to transport. You don't have the pipelines for it so if you live outside the corn belt it has to be trucked in.
2) America doesn't, and can't, make enough ethanol for wide spread use. You make about 5 billion gallons of ethanol, but use 140 billion gallons of gas. One person could be fed 365 days on the corn needed to fill an ethanol-fueled SUV. It has been estimated that "if every bushel of U.S. corn, wheat, rice and soybean were used to produce ethanol, it would only cover about 4% of U.S. energy needs on a net basis." And even if you were to put every square foot of land in the US under the plow, and I do mean EVERY square foot, you still couldn't produce enough ethanol.

http://alt-e.blogspot.com/2006/07/is-ethanol-e85-fuel-solution.html

ai_vin:

agreed that ethanol is not a solution - it is however, a PART of a solution. Current mandates call for blends of renewables on the order of 10-20% - a far cry from replacing gas with ethanol. And the refusal of big oil to fully back cellulosic and other 2nd gen feedstock rather than CNG conversion (Pickens' approach)or more drilling - is proof of their recalcitrance.

Finally, the food/fuel argument is lame. Brazil has produced sugar cane to power up to 80% of their transport needs for the last 30 years. Not only have sugar prices remained stable - they have gone down. Only 12% of the U.S. corn crop is used for food products. The rest is animal feed. I do not support corn-based ethanol, but the food/fuel complaint is another misty-eyed strawdog from the manipulators that brought us AGW.

@Sulleny

You can't compare Brazil to the US. Corn ethanol has a EROEI of 1.34, sugar cane ethanol has a EROEI of 8.

Brazil has an land area of 8,456,510 sq km (mostly tropical) of which 29,200 sq km is irrigated. And their population is only 191,908,598 with more poor people who don't use as much energy.

America has a land area of 9,161,923 sq km (mostly temperate) of which 223,850 sq km is irrigated. However you have a population of 303,824,646 energy hogs.

@ ai_vin:

The EROEI you quoted is way out of date. Two years ago, ethanol was 1.67 according to the DOE Wang study. Today, corn ethanol is over 2 to 1 and evolving. Earlier studies either omitted or low-balled the value of distillers grains (corn ethanol byproduct) in the return. Exports of distillers grains doubled last year, making it more valuable than ever and improving the energy balance. Poet, one of the major producers is using a low heat distillation process and local biomass to replace natural gas. Numerous new ethanol plants are using local manure to biogas for production power. In Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, ethanol is also being made from sorghum, which thrives in semi-arid conditions and produces another crop or two after its cut. And that’s as high as a 5 to 1 return. In Vicksburg AZ is an ethanol refinery integrated with a dairy farm getting a 10 to1 return, producing milk, ethanol, biodeisel, distillers grains, and methane production power. Ethanol and biodeisel will also soon be made from algae, which will be grown on (among other things) the waste products of existing corn ethanol refineries: CO2, waste heat, production power exhaust, and corn rinse effluent. That will blow the socks off of previous returns. Hydrous ethanol is also something that will change the equation. Dongfeng, a major Chinese auto maker is coming out with a car this year, with a slightly modified engine, that runs on 65% ethanol and 35% water. Toyota also has a similar hydrous ethanol prototype. Mixtures as high as 75% water and 25% ethanol have been used in plasma fuel processors, which are so basic that they’re being built by high school students, with off the shelf parts. Search GEET fuel processor or BingoFuel (one word). Like it or not, domestic ethanol and biodeisel are the leading transition fuels. And we don’t create a trade deficit to buy them.

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