The Chevrolet Volt will be used in the pilot project  (Source:
General Electric will lease Volts to hundreds of electric company employees, and General Motors' OnStar division will utilize GE technology to test communications between the electric vehicles and the grid

General Motors Co. has partnered with General Electric and regional power companies (who remain unknown for now) to start testing communications between electric cars and the power grid.

The pilot project aims to collect information associated with energy consumption and charging times through the grid, which could eventually lead to better technology for electric vehicles. The Chevrolet Volt will be the guinea pig for this particular project.

GE will lease Volts to hundreds of electric company employees, who are to drive them as their everyday vehicles. These Volts were bought as part of a 12,000-vehicle fleet order in 2010. During this lease period, GM's OnStar division will utilize GE technology to test communications between the electric vehicles and the grid, allowing utilities to monitor energy used by the vehicles and deliver data regarding where and when the cars plug in to power companies.

The first part of the pilot will test new technology that enables utilities to manage energy demands during heavy use periods, reduce these energy demands, and turn power on and off to charging vehicles.

"In contrast to (auto companies) who are only talking about smart grid technology, we're moving beyond research and development projects to a program in the real world," said Nick Pudar, OnStar's vice president of planning and business development. "Through this pilot we will see real-time results on how intelligent energy management can maximize EV charging efficiency and minimize the electric bill for EV drivers."

An exact start date for the program has not been given, but GM noted that this is the first real world test of electric cars and their communications with the smart grid.

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