Nissan, GE team up to link electric vehicles to grid

Nissan and General Electric are partnering to research ways for electric cars such as Nissan’s Leaf to connect with homes and electric grids.

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

In addition, the partners are exploring ways to incorporate the electric car Leaf into GE’s Smart Home concept, which allows 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 worldwide and imported and sold more than 7,000 in seven U.S. markets. By the end of 2012, Nissan plans to build the car in Smryna, 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 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.