GM, Honda Partner on “Smart Grid” Research

General Motors Co. and Honda Motor Co. are launching a joint research project to study the potential of “smart” grid systems in which electric vehicle owners can sell excess electricity back to utility companies.

The program will begin later this month as part of the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), an industry consortium that was formed a year ago. Blockchain technologies, such as those used for crypto-currencies, use a secure, decentralized network to share data.

GM and Honda will evaluate ways to use blockchain to share data between vehicles, smartphone apps and the grid. The companies already work together on a variety of other projects, including developing next-generation battery cells.

In addition to managing interactions between EVs and the grid, the project also will evaluate how to optimize the use of renewable energy sources (wind and solar) to generate electricity. Other MOBI members could join the initiative later.

Earlier this month Honda launched a separate partnership with Ohio-based electric utility American Electric Power to develop a network of used electric vehicle batteries to supplement electric grids. The carmaker also is testing a bi-directional charging system in Germany.

Several other companies also are working on vehicle-to-grid systems. Renault SA launched a pilot program earlier this year in Europe that will feature specially equipped versions of its Zoe electric supermini car.