While the 2011 Chevrolet Volt has been highly publicized by GM, details regarding pretty much any aspect of the vehicle are hard to come by. Yesterday, however, a member of the team working on the Volt's software revealed a few tidbits regarding the electric car's first- and second-generation charging capabilities.
Britta Gross, GM's manager of Hydrogen and Electrical Infrastructure Development and Strategic Commercialization, revealed at gm-volt.com that the first-generation Volt will allow consumers to key in certain charging preferences. The feature will allow consumers to charge their Volts at specific times so that they can take advantage of off-peak hours when energy is less expensive.
In successive generations, this technology will be greatly expanded upon, Gross said. "There will be some capability in the first-generation Volts to key in charging preferences. It won't have all the smarts and broad capability of future generations. But it will have the smarts for you to be able to go into the vehicle and key in, for example, that you prefer to be charged after 7 p.m. at night because you know the rates will be lower."
GM envisions a second-generation Volt that will be able to communicate with utility companies to determine when energy is cheapest. Then the Volt would adjust its charging times without the need for user input. In the meantime, Gross says she will focus on how to facilitate communication between consumers and utility companies regarding off-peak hours.
Gross also mentioned wireless communication between the Volt and utility companies by means of the ZigBee protocol. The ZigBee protocol was designed specifically for such short-range, low-power applications. But Gross says a ZigBee-enabled chip would have to be installed in the Volt, and about a year's worth of testing would have to be done before it could be implemented, ruling it out as an option for the first-generation of the Volt.