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Automobile

Honda and GM join in smart grid and electric car research

Blockchain emerges as potential key to EVs stabilizing power supplies

GM and Honda are joining in a blockchain experiment that could lead to electric vehicles becoming revenue streams for their owners.

TOKYO -- Honda Motor and General Motors will join in a research project that could determine whether electric vehicles can be used to stabilize the supply of power in next-generation smart grids.

The partners want to develop ways to facilitate the retrieval of information, such as data that is exchanged between power grids and electric vehicles. Down the road, EV owners could earn fees by storing power in car batteries and exchanging it with the grid. This could end up giving EV owners an advantage as their vehicles become revenue streams.

The research will be conducted under the framework of the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative, an international consortium of automotive, IT and other businesses.

MOBI promotes blockchain standards in the mobility industry. Honda joined MOBI in April, becoming the first Japanese automaker to do so.

The joint study is scheduled to get underway this month. Other prospective partners could join later.

Smart grids use renewable energy, including solar and wind power. These are unstable sources of power, a problem that electric vehicles' storage batteries could help smooth over.

The technology to transfer surplus power between electric cars and homes is already in practical use. But systems to connect large numbers of electric vehicles to urban power grids remain in the experimental stage. One reason for this is that it is difficult to know the state of batteries -- whether they are charging or discharging -- in moving cars.

Honda and GM already jointly develop EV batteries for the North American market. GM last year sold about 20,000 units of it's flagship EV Chevrolet Volt. Honda is scheduled to start selling EVs in Europe this year. The two companies are now bringing their expertise in battery charging and power control to next generation smart grids to promote EVs.

About 150 businesses and organizations participate in MOBI. Other members include GM and Ford Motor of the U.S. as well as the BMW Group of Germany.

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