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GE is backing away from a plan it announced more than two years ago to buy 25,000 electric cars for its small army of fleet cars.
Speaking at an automotive conference in Detroit, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt expressed his company’s commitment to the long-term development of alternative-fuel vehicles, namely electric ones.
On a mission to fast track electrified transportation, Nissan has joined forces with GE, signing a two-year research contract in order to accelerate the development of smart charging infrastructure that is accessible to everyone.
GE and Nissan will be focusing its efforts on two key areas in regards to its research efforts: 1. The integration of electric vehicles with homes and buildings; and 2. The dynamics of electric vehicle charging and what will happen to the grid in the future once millions of electric cars are on the road.
It will be interesting to see what this arrangement produces. GE generates or distributes more than 25 percent of the world’s electricity, so the expertise it brings to the table will be a valuable asset. GE is also an expert on power grid infrastructure, which will definitely be an important advantage to the project. On the other side is Nissan, bringing the electric Leaf into the mix. The technology that the automaker has already developed will help accelerate mass market adoption of electric cars, as well as the successful integration of these vehicles into the grid.
“As the U.S. and world move toward electric vehicles, the automotive sector is forming new industry connections that extend well beyond the traditional OEM space,” said Mark Little, Senior Vice President and Director, GE Global Research. “One of the biggest connections being made is with companies that generate and provide electricity. As a major provider of power generation equipment and energy services, GE is in a great position to help the automotive industry bring millions of electric vehicles onto the grid.”
And this new partnership isn’t wasting anytime – it has already spawned several projects that address the two focus areas. In one project, the companies are studying how electric cars can be incorporated into GE’s overall concept for a Smart Home. In another, researchers are analyzing the effect millions of electric cars could have on the electrical distribution system.
GE is introducing a solar powered carport designed for charging electric cars that uses solar panels that produces enough energy every year to power 20 homes with electricity.
Rather than a home unit, the carport is intended for public usage, with six charging stations allowing for a total of 13 EVs to be charged each day. Since the carport is connected to the grid, the unit can both draw and feed power, depending on the amount of electricity required.
The first carport will be installed in Connecticut, but expect to see this kind of technology elsewhere in the future.