Since February, participants in Pecan Street Inc.’s real-world demonstration project have been putting the Chevrolet Volt to the sustainable test. Pecan Street Inc. is a research and development organization, headquartered at the University of Texas at Austin, which is focused on advanced energy management systems. A few years ago Pecan Street started a real-world demonstration project centered around Austin’s Mueller community, where many residents agreed to be part of a clean-energy smart grid test for sustainable living. There are currently about 400 homes participating.
Last September, Chevrolet made 100 Volts available for purchase on a priority basis for Pecan Street residents. Delivery started in February and currently Mueller has the nation’s highest residential concentration of electric-drive vehicles in a single community. Electric vehicle testing is one of many cutting edge energy and consumer products that the Muller community tests in real homes, with real customers on a real electrical grid.
Along with OnStar, General Motors recently announced they are now signing on as an official partner of Pecan Street to help shape future electric vehicle services. The official partnership allows researchers from Pecan Street and GM to study how these families’ Volts interact with the smart grid on a daily basis and how they interact with other sustainable technologies.
“We hope Pecan Street’s research will speed up the innovation cycle around smart grid and consumer electronic technology,” said Pecan Street Inc. Executive Director Brewster McCracken. “Electric vehicles represent a significant addition to a home’s energy profile and understanding that impact and how consumers use and charge their vehicles is critically important.”
“We are moving our lab demonstrations into the real world,” said Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of strategy and business development. “We’re gathering information from families’ vehicles throughout this community to find out the direct impact the Volt has on the grid and how to get drivers the lowest-possible charging rates. This project will also help us develop future capabilities of the Volt and other plug-in electric vehicles.”
To learn more about Pecan Street, check out the video below.