GE and Nissan sign R&D contract to speed up electric cars adoption

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 3, 2011

Nissan and GE are set to accelerate their move to electrified transportation, having signed a two-year research and development partnership to come up with a robust and reliable smart charging infrastructure that will lead the way in the mainstream market adoption of electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF.

GE and Nissan will partner in two important focus areas for their research. The first one involves integrating electric vehicles with buildings and homes, while the other one is to check the EV’s charging dynamics with the grid to make sure that they work properly once millions of electric vehicles are on the road.

GE Global Research senior vice president and director Mark Little says that automakers are forming alliances within the industry that go beyond the traditional OEM partnerships. Little says that one of the biggest connections made in the current move toward electric vehicles is between an automaker and a company that generates and distributes electricity. Little explains that GE is in the position to help automakers bring millions of electric cars to the grid thanks to their experience in manufacturing power generators and in providing energy related services.

Nissan Americas senior vice president for research and development Carla Bailo says that the research partnership is proof of the carmaker’s commitment to introduce zero emission mobility to the mainstream market. Bailo says that GE’s expertise with energy networks will help the Japanese automaker develop better conditions in the market for the Nissan LEAF and other electric vehicles. It also adds value for their current and future customers.

The agreement will bring together the leaders in two major industries who in turn will work together to improve adoption rates of electric cars. More than 25 percent of electricity worldwide is generated or distributed by GE equipment, so the company brings its expertise of the power grid infrastructure to help solve problems with integrating millions of electric vehicles into the grid around the world. Meanwhile, Nissan is the recognized leader in zero emission cars, thanks to the LEAF. Nissan is looking to create and nurture new partnerships and technologies to hasten mass market adoption for electric vehicles and guarantee their successful integration into the power grid.

A variety of projects are already underway. One of the projects seeks to find ways that Nissan LEAF and other electric cars may be integrated with GE’s smart home concept. Nissan’s engineers are creating ways to connect the vehicles to the home, so that it becomes part of the home’s energy equipment. It will investigate how the electric car would affect the cost of electricity and loads in the home.

In another project, researchers will be looking at usage data, as well as modeling and simulation experiments to see how millions of electric cars would affect the electrical distribution system.

Press Release

GE, Nissan Sign R&D Agreement to Fast Track Broader Adoption of Electric Cars

Pressing the accelerator on the drive to electrified transportation, GE and Nissan have signed a two-year research collaboration to speed up the development of a reliable, robust smart charging infrastructure to fuel mass market adoption of electric cars like the Nissan LEAF.

GE and Nissan have identified two key focus areas for the research efforts. The first relates to the integration of electric vehicles with homes and buildings. The second looks at electric vehicle charging dynamics and the future impact on the grid once millions of electric cars are on the road.

"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."

"Connections like this research partnership with GE reinforce Nissan's commitment to bring zero emission mobility to the mass market," said Carla Bailo, senior vice president, Research and Development, Nissan Americas. "GE's broad expertise with energy networks will help Nissan create better conditions in the market for electric cars like Nissan LEAF, and add value for our customers both now and in the future."

The R&D agreement connects leaders in two major industry sectors that will work together to increase adoption of electric cars. With more than 25 percent of the world's electricity generated or distributed by GE equipment, GE brings its considerable expertise of the power grid infrastructure to help address the global challenge of integrating millions of electric cars onto the grid. With the all-electric Nissan LEAF, Nissan is the leader in zero emission vehicles, developing new technologies and partnerships to speed mass market adoption of electric cars and to ensure their successful integration into the grid.

Several projects around the two focus areas already are underway. In one project, researchers from the companies are studying how electric cars like Nissan LEAF can be incorporated into GE's overall concept for a Smart Home. Nissan engineers are developing methods to connect the vehicle to the home, making it a more integrated part of the building's energy equipment. This project will look at how the addition of an electric car impacts the cost of electricity and changes overall home electricity loads.

In another study, researchers will use aggregate usage data along with sophisticated simulation and modeling experiments, to analyze the effect millions of electric cars could have on our electrical distribution system.

For all of these projects, researchers will be seeking answers to a number of important questions. They include:

How can smart energy management systems for homes and buildings be leveraged to support the management of EV charging? How can we take advantage of energy storage and renewable power, such as home solar arrays, to reliably manage and meet the power needs of electric cars? For example, are there innovative ways to directly link charging stations with renewable power sources?

Nissan researchers are studying the use of two-way power flow between the vehicle and the home, via its CHAdeMO quick charging port, as a method to reduce the home's consumption from the grid during peak periods, or to utilize the vehicle for emergency backup power. GE researchers have programs under way to understand how these systems, in tandem with the utility, could be used to meet vehicle charging needs without over-stressing the grid.

GE's work will be conducted primarily at its global research operations in Niskayuna, New York, where the latest electric transportation research and smart grid technology will facilitate research programs between the two companies. Nissan Technical Center North America, located in Farmington Hills, Mich., will lead the automaker's efforts, including integration of vehicle-to-home charging technology, with support from the Nissan Advanced Technology Center in Japan.

About GE Global Research

GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE's businesses. Our scientists and engineers redefine what's possible, drive growth for our businesses and find answers to some of the world's toughest problems.

We innovate 24 hours a day, with sites in Niskayuna, New York; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; Munich, Germany; and a fifth global research facility to open in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012. Visit GE Global Research on the web at www.ge.com/research. Connect with our technologists at http://www.edisonsdesk.com and http://twitter.com/edisonsdesk.

About Nissan Americas

In the Americas, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and was recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 and 2011. More information on Nissan in North America, the Nissan LEAF and zero emissions can be found at www.nissanusa.com.

About Nissan

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan's second largest Japanese automotive company by volume, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan and is an integral pillar of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 150,000 employees globally, Nissan provided customers with more than 4 million vehicles in 2010. With a strong commitment to developing exciting and innovative products for all, Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of fuel-efficient and low-emissions vehicles under the Nissan and Infiniti brands. A pioneer in zero emission mobility, Nissan made history with the introduction of the Nissan LEAF, the first affordable, mass-market, pure-electric vehicle and winner of numerous international accolades including the prestigious 2011 European Car of the Year award.

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