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OnStar opens up APIs for Smart Grid applications for EVs

OnStar, a wholly owned subsidiary of GM, is inviting utilities, energy companies and tech firms to develop Smart Grid solutions using a set of proprietary OnStar application programming (APIs). OnStar is opening up its APIs to give developers the ability to broaden the potential for integrating EVs such as the Volt with Smart Grid technology.

Two weeks ago at the International Consumer Electronics Show, OnStar announced plans to give selected developers access to a proprietary API that will allow them create mobile applications designed to interact with OnStar services. (Earlier post.) The Smart Grid set of APIs is among the first to be offered outside of the company.

OnStar services are enabled by its Advanced Telematics Operating Management System. ATOMS is an automotive application cloud platform connecting to more than 6 million OnStar customers. Apps created using the API will deliver services and functionality in the same manner. Giving safe access to the ATOMS Cloud Platform is part of a broad 2012 growth initiative OnStar announced at the CES.

The set of Smart Grid APIs will be focused on a variety of recently developed solutions from OnStar 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 dynamic 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.

  • Aggregated services. This solution allows electric service providers to manage the charging of participating vehicles in a given geographic area, with customer consent. This includes the ability to control charging on a large amount of EVs simultaneously. OnStar recently showcased these capabilities on Google’s “Gfleet”, where a Volt would receive a renewable energy signal provided by an energy management company, opening up the potential to alert EV customers when renewable energy is available on the grid for charging. (Earlier post.)

OnStar has previously used APIs to demonstrate Smart Grid solutions with a number of utilities across the country.

We have partnered with OnStar to demonstrate the ability to display our time-of-use electric rate on both the Volt dashboard as well as on smart phones. The ability to display the rate on the vehicle could help customers make informed decisions about when to charge their vehicles.

—Haukur Asgeirsson, DTE Energy engineering manager

Developers for Smart Grid services can access OnStar’s Smart Grid APIs by visiting OnStar’s dedicated Smart Grid website.



After OnStar's announced plan to sell private information about subscribers even after they un-subscribe (until a big brouhaha ensued), someone else should be in charge of that function. Someone bound by a strong privacy contract.

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