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GM: Let's Hash Out Open Plug-In Car Standards

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Some standards for plug-in vehicles may have come sooner than we thought, but work still remains for standards that General Motors (s GM) sees as “necessary for consumer acceptance of electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt,” according to the automaker’s latest FastLane blog post.

We noted in December that the Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE, was working to update standards for the interface between plug-in electric cars and the grid, and planned to agree on a set within months. Here we are four months later: GM is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and its turnaround plan — which gave the Chevy Volt a central role — has gotten a less-than-rave review from the Obama administration. The auto industry is now gearing up to hash out those standards at the SAE conference in Detroit next week — and GM has a major stake in getting them out swiftly. From FastLane:

In order for plug-in electric vehicles to become part of the mainstream, a plug-in “ecosystem” must be in place when vehicles like the Chevy Volt extended-range electric vehicle hit the market. And for this ecosystem to be robust, there must be commonality, especially when owners are plugging into the electrical grid. . . . Outlet voltages won’t always be the same and the weather will vary based on location, but the vehicle’s charge cord plug and how you use it should always remain the same – regardless of make or model.

The SAE standard for this is called J1772. As we’ve noted before, a lower-power version of it was published back in 2001, specifying charging hardware interface and coupler system. According to GM, the updated standard can be expected by the end of the summer — just in time, perhaps, for the first production prototypes of the Chevy Volt.