General Motors has already been very clear that it sees its future – and a big business opportunity – in electric vehicles.
On Tuesday, it confirmed that it plans to offer its first home energy system with the retail launch of the 2024 Chevy Silverado EV slated to arrive beginning in fall 2023. The system will have a preferred installation partner, SunPower, with optional solar power.
It’s a small piece of the company’s broader ambition announced at the same time: the idea that it also sees itself as an energy manager involving EVs directly but also far beyond them.
GM Energy – Ultium Home
As part of a new global business unit called GM Energy, the company plans to integrate its Ultium Charge 360 services with Ultium Home and Ultium Commercial.
Through these three areas, the company aims to engage in “coherent energy management for residential, commercial and electric customers, with solutions ranging from bi-directional charging, vehicle-to-home (V2H) and vehicle to the grid (V2G), stationary storage, solar products, software applications, cloud management tools, microgrid solutions, hydrogen fuel cells, etc.
GM Energy app
On some level, GM wants to be an energy broker, managing the sale of energy from electric vehicles or storage batteries to utilities when beneficial, potentially helping to avoid blackouts and reduce costs, and compiling a list of Ultium Charge 360 solutions for fleets and consumers.
On another level, it will have a direct role in the field material used for this purpose. GM cites SunPower for solar power and says a partnership with the company will provide integrated solar panels and home energy storage, allowing electric vehicles to power the home in the event of a power outage or tap into energy stored during peak hours, which will facilitate the load on the grid.
These activities would be managed through an Energy Services Cloud, leveraging data tools and partnerships with utilities and energy companies.
GM Energy – Ultium Commercial
One such collaboration is the pilot program between GM and California utility PG&E last March, allowing a “small subset” of customers to receive power from their electric vehicle in the event of a power outage. GM reports that after initial lab tests, the program will begin in 2023.
GM in July announced plans to form a coast-to-coast 350kW charging network with Pilot and Flying J travel centers. And earlier this year it suggested that its power generators Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell systems could help support the grid or add electric vehicle charging where the grid cannot support it.
The Silverado EV won’t be the first electric pickup to help avoid power outages. The Ford F-150 Lightning is already available with a home energy system that allows home backup – vehicle warranty intact – with some of the functions customers might get from a Tesla Powerwall. Ford’s partner on its system is Sunrun.
GM has yet to detail the system for the Silverado EV. Earlier this year, a patent filing revealed that GM may be considering a dual charging port layout that could help make the most of the expected dual-layer battery in some versions.