Nissan, GE team up to connect electric vehicles

The research could lead to a way to use the Leaf’s lithium-ion battery as a backup for a home power outage, said Bob Sump, vice president of Nissan’s Farmington Hills engineering center.

In addition, the partners are exploring ways to incorporate the Leaf into GE’s Smart Home concept, which uses its Brillion technology to allow appliances to "talk" with a system that monitors home energy use. Smart appliances can use energy when it’s least expensive and least taxing on the local electrical grid.

GE makes its own electric-vehicle charger, called the WattStation, but that isn’t part of the partnership, said Mark Little, GE’s global research director.

Nissan has so far sold more than 15,000 Leaf pure electrics cars worldwide and imported and sold more than 7,000 electric vehicles in seven U.S. markets. By the end of 2012, Nissan plans to build the electric car in Tennessee and sell it nationwide.

To compare, General Motors had sold 3,498 Chevrolet Volt extended-range electrics through August, although GM built 7,520 Volts in Detroit-Hamtramck in that period.

GM has earmarked 6,000 of the 16,000 Volts it plans to build this year for dealer demos and overseas sales. It will deliver Volts nationwide by year’s end.

The electric car Leaf runs on battery power, while the Volt uses battery power for the first 35 miles and then switches to a gas-powered generator.