In order to provide a benefit to the customer and GM, someone—whether a utility or grid operator—will have to pay for the service. "How we find value we're still working through," Pebbles admits, although any payment would further defray the extra cost of purchasing an EV. "You are more likely to see EVs as a second car for many Americans when they are cheaper," noted Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander in February at the third summit of the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, a government agency that is working on better batteries. "Most of the cost is in the battery."
As it stands, the first rollout of the program is giving the computer code, or smart-grid APIs (application programming interfaces), for the GM EVs to utilities to develop software applications for it as well as a control app for smartphones to some of the Volt drivers. The app—dubbed EcoHub—shows how much energy your home is using on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and exactly how much of that goes to charging the electric car. That is, in part, to start to reveal to electric car owners what the real benefits and costs of owning such a vehicle are. "Later on it will show, if they agree, that we will control their charging," Pebbles explains. The U.S. Department of Energy figures that the average gallon of gasoline in the country costs $3.65 while the average electric equivalent is just $1.14.
Electric cars only make up some 0.3 percent of new car sales at present, but as the vehicles continue to drop in price, new owners may find themselves in demand for intelligent energy management. "The EV will be a new lifestyle," argued Kerstin Meerwaldt, who heads BMW's Corporate Strategy and Planning, at the 2013 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in April. "Everyone who has ever tried an electric car will be convinced,” she said, before quickly revising her estimate—“at least 90 percent."