The electric vehicle (EV) market has been stuck in low gear. One of the big opportunities where this can be changed is in the commercial vehicle sector. There are over 230 million commercial cars and light-duty trucks on U.S. roads—a huge potential source for widespread EV adoption. But large companies, federal, state and local governments and other fleet operators have hesitated to make the switch. GE just started on a project that drives at chaning that.
Researchers at GE’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York, will design and build a better commercial fleet charging station that will incorporate GE’s existing smart grid technology and help dramatically cut installation costs in the depots and garages housing bus, vehicle delivery and other commercial and government fleets. The project also received support from the U.S. Department of Energy.
They are in charge: Researchers in GE’s Smart Grid lab will be developing advanced communication systems and controls to reduce charging station installation costs for fleet operators. The technology will also help utilities more effectively monitor and manage larger electric vehicle loads on the grid. Currently, fleet operators need to install a separate charging station for each EV, which can be very expensive. In the current set up, each charging station has its own dedicated power and networking cables to supply and monitor energy usage.
The new technologies that GE researchers are developing will contain fewer electronics parts and use advanced communication systems to exchange information with the Smart Grid. The new design could reduce the total number of the physical stations required while still providing the same number of charging cords. GE will be working with utilities and fleet operators to develop and test a prototype system. The company has been experimenting with many different kinds of EV charging stations and options, from the Yves Behar-designed WattStation for home garages, which is available on Amazon.com, to a super-renewable solar-powered carport in Plainville, Connecticut.