GM Partners with Utilities on Plug-In Vehicles

General Motors says in an effort to prepare the market for its electric vehicle the Volt and the plug-in version of the Saturn Vue, the automaker has partnered with a consortium of over 30 utilities and the Electric Power Research Institute. The consortium, which GM’s Vice President, Global Program Management, Jon Lauckner will detail at the Plug-In 2008 conference in San Jose on Tuesday, will work on issues like standardization, customer education, infrastructure and public policy.

With electric vehicles starting to plug into the power grid, utilities are about to become the gas stations of the future, pointed out Mark Duvall, Program Manager, Electric Transportation at EPRI, at a GM-sponsored dinner event on Monday night. By teaming up with utilities an automaker like GM can help its cars become more mainstream by trying to ensure that all customers’ homes are outfitted to power its plug-ins.

The group could also use its collective weight to influence policy issues, as plug-in vehicles are starting to become a hot-button political issue. Last Friday presidential hopeful John McCain visited a GM facility in Warren, Mich., and sat in GM’s Volt, saying the vehicle represents a key part of the country’s ability to eliminate its dependence on foreign oil.

GM isn’t the first automaker to work with EPRI and utilities on plug-in vehicles. In March Ford and EPRI announced a three year agreement to work on plug-in vehicle technology and trials. Ford is also working with California utility Southern California Edison on plug-in vehicle tech.

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