General Motors Corp. has joined with more than 30 utility companies across the U.S. to help work out electricity issues that will crop up when it rolls out new electric vehicles in a little more than two years. The Chevrolet Volt rechargeable car will be in showrooms in late 2010. The consortium will work on everything from policy issues including tax incentives for purchasing what is likely to be an expensive car, from $30,000 to $40,000, to whether the electric generation system can handle the increased power demand.
The cars will have to be designed so recharging them can be timed to low-demand periods for electricity. The speed of the recharging, voltage, amperage and other issues all have to be worked out. The group also will address issues such as how apartment dwellers can charge their cars and where the vehicles will be charged at work or on trips — and who pays for the electricity. It is being designed so it can be recharged from a conventional household electrical outlet.
Automakers and utilities will have to work out ways to decide how to stagger recharging so local substations do not become overloaded. The Volt likely will need about eight kilowatt-hours of energy to recharge. The average U.S. utility charges about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, so it would cost the consumer about 80 cents to go the 40 miles.