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'Charge Account': OnStar's EcoHub App Shows Cost of Driving Chevy Volt
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October 08, 2012

'Charge Account': OnStar's EcoHub App Shows Cost of Driving Chevy Volt

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

OnStar is testing an app capable of telling Chevrolet Volt owners how much it costs to charge their batteries. The app also compares the Volt’s energy use with the total energy consumed at the drivers’ homes—by day, month or by year.

The new app, called EcoHub, initially will be evaluated by, and available to, residents of the Pecan Street demonstration project, a smart testbed community in Austin, Texas.

OnStar is a subsidiary of Detroit-based General Motors (News - Alert) that provides subscription-based communications, in-vehicle security, hands-free calling, turn-by-turn navigation, and remote diagnostics systems to drivers of Chevrolet and other GM vehicles nationwide in the United States and Canada.

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“For the first time we’re able to put one of our smart grid solutions into the hands of actual consumers, thanks in part to our partnership with Pecan Street,” said Paul Pebbles, global manager, Electric Vehicle and Smart Grid Services for Onstar. “Down the line, we hope this app can be a beneficial tool for all drivers of electric vehicles.”

The EcoHub app works by pulling overall home energy usage data, provided by an energy data source, such as a utility or smart meter company. The app also collects Volt charging information from OnStar subscribers and Volt owners who opt in for EcoHub (see video).

The energy use data is then aggregated to show vehicle owners exactly how much energy they are using at home overall, including what percentage of that energy went to charging the Volt.

The 2013 Volt can travel an average of 38 miles on one full electric charge before its onboard gas-powered electric generator seamlessly switches on.

“We’ve found that Volt owners love [to monitor] and compare their personal driving stats, like electric miles driven,” said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet Volt marketing director. “The EcoHub app is another great example of using the vehicle’s embedded technology to provide Volt owners with useful information.”

In addition, the EcoHub app will feature a “Ticker” screen that shows drivers the national values for: total miles driven, total EV miles driven and gallons of fuel saved. 

“The ‘Ticker’ screen is a nice addition because it allows drivers to see that they are part of a national effort to reduce fuel use by contributing to the growing number of electric miles driven,” said Pebbles.

While the app will only be available to Volt drivers who live in the Pecan Street project for now, OnStar hopes to make the app available to all Volt owners in the near future.

OnStar’s Smart Grid research is made possible by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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