One of the many intriguing aspects of electric car ownership is the ability to choose where, when and how to charge the vehicle's batteries. In most areas, electric utility rates vary widely depending on the time of day, with the least expensive periods generally at night. With that in mind, the cheapest time to charge an electric car is likely while you sleep.
That may not always be the case, though. In the future, many experts predict that automobiles and other appliances may be smart enough to communicate with the electrical grid and will charge themselves when excess power is available at attractive rates. According to GM's Britta Gross, future versions of the Chevy Volt are expected to have this capability.
There are a few possibilities presented by Gross that GM could use to allow the Volt to communicate with utility companies, including its own OnStar technology and, in the future, embedded chips using the Zigbee protocol that could wirelessly connect to a smart grid.