Chevrolet Silverado Electric presented at the New York Auto Show, April, 2022.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
General Motors On Tuesday it said it is creating a new business unit to offer stationary battery packs, solar panels, electric car chargers and other energy management products for homes and businesses.
The new unit, called GM Energy, aims to build the battery and software expertise that GM has gathered in recent years to develop a new line of electric vehicles that will, over time, replace its internal offerings.
GM Energy will provide products and services for what the company calls “energy management,” including hardware such as batteries and solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells and — importantly — cloud-based software that can integrate these offerings with electric vehicles and utility companies. . . The products, some of which will be provided by partners, can be tailored to individual homeowners and businesses, including electric vehicle companies.
Commercial operations are already underway, while home energy systems will be available starting next year as the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV goes on sale.
GM Energy’s goal is twofold: help the automaker manage the customer experience when they buy a new EV, and create a sustainable business as GM tries to double annual revenue to $280 billion by the end of this decade.
Travis Hester, vice president of GM’s EV development operations, said the new business unit offers customers and power grids “resilience.”
“If the power goes out unexpectedly, you can use your vehicle or your storage box to power your home or small business,” he said. And the batteries can feed power back into the local power grid during a heatwave or other event.
GM does not start in this area. Most important, Tesla it has provided charging, solar storage and energy storage for many years. There are also traditional competitors such as Generac. Ford Motor also enters this space.
The total market for products and services targeted by GM Energy is between $125 billion and $250 billion, according to Hester. He told CNBC that growing concerns about the US power grid make this a timely offering.
Hester said GM Energy has already signed a list of partners who will help deliver products and services and integrate its offerings into the grid. Those companions include the sun giant SunPowerwhich will install GM home systems and supply solar panels, and regional utility companies including Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Con Edison.
“It was very important to us that when we launched this it wasn’t a plan for the future, but actually something we’re doing right now,” Hester said, adding more partnerships will be announced soon.
PG&E is working with GM Energy to test a “bi-directional charger,” which allows an EV to power a home during blackouts. EVs charge at night when rates are low and can provide power back to the grid during peak hours.
“The business fundamentals behind this are very strong,” Hester said, adding that energy management can save commercial customers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and provide additional savings, if not revenue, to consumers.
The companies expect to begin making the charger available to PG&E customers next year.
Ford Motor has the same deal with PG&E electric F-150 Lightning. It’s also partnered with it Sunrun as the preferred installer of home energy systems. Installation of those systems began earlier this year.