A Chevrolet Volt Gets Charged Up

The climbing price placards being hung at the neighborhood gas station aren't making too many people happy. Now, drivers of some Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicles are getting their own version of those signs, and it's likely they're actually happy about it, by comparison.

General Motors' OnStar is testing a navigation app that will record how much it costs to charge a Volt at a particular time, and how those costs compare to home energy use. The app, called EcoHub, tracks home energy use and typical costs of energy coming from a particular local utility to provide an estimate on electric "fill-up" costs for the Volt. GM is testing the app at the Pecan Street housing community in Austin, Texas, and hopes to broaden the user base in the future.

The app deployment is an expansion of a relationship between GM and Pecan Street that started in July. The 700-acre housing community had already been working with GM on tracking how the Volts are used and how far they're driven on a regular basis. The community is geared towards sustainable living, as you can read in GM's press release below.

Year-to-date Chevy Volt sales are almost four times higher that they were in 2011, and September marked a new record-high monthly sales total with 2,851 vehicles sold.
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How Much is Your Charge Charging You?
OnStar's new EcoHub connected app shows cost of Volt charging

2012-10-05

AUSTIN, Texas – 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.

About OnStar

OnStar, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors, is the global leading provider of connected safety, security and mobility solutions and advanced information technology. With more than 6 million subscribers in the U.S, Canada and China, OnStar is currently available on more than 45 MY 2012 GM models, as well as available for installation on most other vehicles already on the road with OnStar FMV. More information about OnStar can be found at www.onstar.com.
About Pecan Street Inc.

Headquartered at the University of Texas at Austin, Pecan Street Inc. is the country's first non-profit research and development consortia focused on energy, wireless and consumer electronics technology. Its demonstration project in Austin's Mueller community is testing cutting edge energy and consumer products, including rooftop solar, home energy storage and electric vehicles, in real homes, with real customers on a real electrical grid. Learn more at www.pecanstreet.org.