OnStar presents new EcoHub connected app that shows cost of Volt charging

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 8, 2012

Chevrolet Volt owners will be able to calculate total charging costs in comparison with the total home energy use through a new app named EcoHub that OnStar is presently testing. With EcoHub, the Volt owner can monitor energy on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis. EcoHub gathers total home energy use information from the local electric company or a smart meter firm to compare it with Volt charging information to display the Volt’s percentage of total energy use.

EcoHub also measures total energy cost based on local electricity rates. It has a “Ticker” screen that shows total electric-powered miles driven compared to total miles driven as well as gallons of fuel saved in EV mode. The initial tests of the EcoHub app will be conducted by Volt owners who live in the Pecan Street smart grid living community in Austin.

OnStar is expected to later make EcoHub available for Volt owners throughout the country. The 2013 Chevrolet Volt got improvements in battery density, leading to a 38-mile EV range and an EPA-rated 98 MPGe. In September, 2851 Volt units were sold. This is its highest monthly sales yet. For the first nine months of 2012, Chevrolet sold 16,348 Volts. In a release, Paul Pebbles, global manager, Electric Vehicle and Smart Grid Services, said that eventually, this app will benefit everyone who drives electric vehicles.

A GM spokesman said that the EcoHub’s availability could only be expanded when third-party sources cooperate. OnStar wants to be able to utilize the Green Button Initiative, a national program that permits customers to get access home energy information through a smart meter.

No timeframe has been set yet on when the EcoHub will be offered to the public. However, GM says that it might be feasible within this year if it gets the right partnerships. For now, the app is available just on OnStar equipped EVs, hinting that Cadillac ELR owners may attempt to acquire a newer version of the app.

Press Release

How Much is Your Charge Charging You?

OnStar is testing an app capable of telling Chevrolet Volt owners how much it costs to charge their battery – and compare the Volt's energy use with the total energy consumed in their home by day, month or year.

The new app, called EcoHub, will initially be tested with and available to residents of the Pecan Street demonstration project, a smart grid living community in Austin.

"For the first time we're able to put one of our Smart Grid solutions into the hands of actual consumers, thanks in part to our partnership with Pecan Street," said Paul Pebbles, global manager, Electric Vehicle and Smart Grid Services. "Down the line, we hope this app can be a beneficial tool for all drivers of electric vehicles."

The EcoHub app works by pulling overall home energy usage data, provided by an energy data source, such as a utility or smart meter company. The app also collects Volt charging information from OnStar subscribers and Volt owners who opt in for EcoHub. The energy use data is then aggregated to show vehicle owners exactly how much energy is being used on a daily, monthly or yearly basis, while showing what percentage of that energy went to charging the Volt. Based on electricity rates, the data is broken down to show the cost of both total energy usage and Volt charging energy use.

The 2013 Volt can travel an average of 38 miles on one full electric charge before its onboard gas-powered electric generator seamlessly switches on.

"We've found that Volt owners love to keep track of and compare their personal driving stats, like electric miles driven for example," said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet Volt marketing director. "The EcoHub app is another great example of using the vehicle's embedded technology to provide Volt owners with useful information."

In addition, the EcoHub app will include a "Ticker" screen that shows drivers the national values for Total Miles Driven, Total EV Miles Driven and Gallons of Fuel Saved.

"The 'Ticker' screen is a nice addition because it allows drivers to see that they are part of a national effort to reduce fuel use by contributing to the growing number of electric miles driven." said Pebbles.

While the app will be tested with and only be available to Volt drivers in Pecan Street project at first, OnStar hopes to make the app available for all Volt owners in the near future.

OnStar's Smart Grid research is made possible by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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