GM Now in the Energy Business

October 13, 2022

Elon Musk, despite his more recent vile behavior, did have a critical insight that has been key to making Tesla the behemoth that it has become. He wasn’t in the car business, he was in the energy business.


General Motors is launching a new line of energy products to homeowners, businesses and utilities — the next step in an EV offensive designed to generate revenue beyond making and selling electric vehicles and aimed directly at Tesla.

The product line will be housed under a new business unit called GM Energy and covers the gamut of EV ownership, including stationary energy storage, solar through a partnership with SunPower and bi-directional charging technology to deliver power from the vehicle to their home or to the grid. GM Energy has also developed a cloud product that houses data and management software and helps tie all of these hardware products together and, ultimately, balance out the power grid while providing an incentive to EV owners.

The new business unit has also developed large-scale batteries for utilities as well as hydrogen fuel cells, Travis Hester, vice president of GM’s EV growth operations, told TechCrunch in a recent interview.

GM Energy is divided into three sectors covering residential, commercial and charging. Each sector carries the Ultium name, the same branding that GM gave to the next-generation electric vehicle platform and batteries of its new and upcoming EVs.

The home energy system, which includes stationary storage similar to Tesla’s Powerwall product, will debut with the launch of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV. GM did not release pricing information on its new products.

The pitch to homeowners

The Ultium Home line includes a stationary battery called Powervault, an EV charger, solar through its partner SunPower and a controller box that will link everything together.

But GM’s big pitch to consumers isn’t just about how stationary storage can keep the lights on at home during a blackout or even how solar energy can charge their EV.

Instead, GM is also touting a system that will allow consumers to sell energy from their EV and stationary storage batteries back to utilities during peak, high-energy consumption periods.

The business unit already has a pilot project with Pacific Gas and Electric Company that lets residential customers use their compatible EVs along with a bi-directional charger, as backup power for essential home needs during short-term power outages. The companies expect to expand the vehicle-to-home service in 2023 to a subset of residential customers within PG&E’s service area.

Climate driven extreme weather events have unexpectedly been a key driver of this market move.

Car and Driver:

Today’s EVs have large battery packs with capacities of 60 to 200 kilowatt-hours of energy, or two to seven times the daily usage by the average U.S. household. Road trips aside, average daily travels of 30 to 100 miles use up only half of that at most.

GM’s new unit will build a business that links the distributed energy storage of millions of EVs to owners’ homes (as backup power, replacing gasoline-fueled generators) and, more ambitiously, to the broader electric grid. GM plans to “play across the entire energy ecosystem,” in the words of Mark Bole, head of V2X and Battery Solutions, during a press preview in advance of this announcement.

Last year, Ford seemed to have been caught off guard by intense public interest in an aspect of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup. That was the ability to power a home at up to 19.2 kilowatts for up to several days on a fully charged battery—at least in the top version, with modifications to home wiring. 

Other EVs offer power-out capabilities, at lower rates: the latest EVs from Hyundai and Kia have conventional three-prong, 120-volt outlets at the base of the rear seat to run various consumer electronics. (Cue glossy advertisements of a silent EV parked next to a remote lake, powering a picnic-table lamp, an electric grill, a fridge, maybe even a portable stereo.) Their output of up to 6.6 kW won’t power your entire home, though it might keep your kitchen refrigerator running.

Backup power for emergencies is one of two home applications GM discussed. The other is lower electric bills from charging the EV when rates are lowest, then using some of its energy to power the house during peak demand periods, substituting for grid electricity when rates are highest.

Emergency backup power gets greater attention, though. As more frequent extreme weather events cause widespread, heavily publicized power outages, interest in simple, convenient, automatic backup for home energy will grow. Many homeowners don’t want to wrestle with a noisy gasoline-fired generator, which can’t be used indoors and produces exhaust emissions. EVs offer an alternative: Plug in the car at night and get the same backup. If there’s a grid outage, your charging station switches automatically from recharging the battery to using that battery to power your house.


GM will also be offering home battery systems based on its Ultium cells so even if a vehicle isn’t present or plugged in, the battery could power the house or during the day, if equipped with solar, the sun could handle it. GM Energy is partnering with SunPower to design solutions and enable these installations.

For commercial customers, GM Energy will also be offering larger scale stationary storage or fuel cell systems to provide backup power. Particularly important to fleet operators will be the Energy Services Cloud that will include charging management solutions. Like the offering from Ford Pro, this will allow fleet managers to track the state of charge of vehicles, when they need to go out and schedule which vehicles should be charged when to ensure readiness and minimize downtime. 

Among other things, this will allow fleets to manage how much energy is being used when, to help avoid peak demand charges that significantly escalate commercial electric bills. Everything can be managed through a cloud services dashboard. GM is already working with a number of commercial partners including Con Edison, Graniterock mining and New Hampshire Electric Cooperative to test and develop these systems.

If you’ve noticed lately, Tesla has been leveraging its integrated systems to create “virtual power plants” where many owners of EV/Solar/Battery systems can become a resource that utilities can draw on in times of grid stress, alleviating the need for blackouts and brownouts, and creating revenue for those households.


Last year, Tesla launched a VPP pilot program in California, where Powerwall owners would join voluntarily without compensation to let the VPP pull power from their battery packs when the grid needed it. It helped Tesla prove the usefulness of such a system.

Following the pilot program, Tesla and PG&E (the electric utility covering Northern California) launched the first official virtual power plant through the Tesla app in June.

This new version of the Virtual Power Plant actually compensates Powerwall owners $2 per kWh that they contribute to the grid during emergency load reduction events. Homeowners are expected to get between $10 and $60 per event.

Last month, we reported that Tesla’s California VPP expanded to Southern California Edison (SCE) to now cover most of the state. Shortly after, the VPP had its first event, and it was extremely successful.


9 Responses to “GM Now in the Energy Business”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Based on share price only, Tesla Inc (TSLA) currently has a market capitalization)of just under $700b, while General Motors (GM) is about $47.8b.

    Contrast to the price to earnings ratio, where GM’s is a fairly sane 5.4 while Tesla’s is an exuberant (aka “overvalued”) 70.2.

    That’s because GM’s revenue is ~$132b/year, roughly twice that of Tesla’s $67b/year.

    • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

      Lack of logic is endemic!

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        It’s more complicated than that. Tesla sales growth is steady and phenomenal; GM sales growth is anemic if not negative and it teeters on bankruptcy.

        Tesla has already spent their money on expansion. If they had not had difficulties with their new battery production, they would have already seen about $100 billion in opening sales from a single new model – the Cybertruck.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          any links on that about cybertruck?

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          This article is about GM* expanding upstream in production and generally “Teslafying” into energy storage, but as a whole the old brands still have a lot of working infrastructure in terms of sales capacity.

          Tesla reminds me a lot of all the “speedboat” applications that dominated the early days of home computers and the Internet. Once some of the Big Boys got their “Queen Marys” turned around and heading in the new direction, the younger ventures were either bought up or swamped by the big money.

          Tesla may have cachet among early adopters, but the market is expanding to the point where EVs are less exotic, and the advertisements put out for new car models are targeting more mainstream buyers.
          *As of 2021, GM was the sixth biggest car company in the world, by revenue, with Tesla ranked 20th.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            Really prefer not to get into it, but there are some valid economic reasons why so many investors have pushed the price to where it is. That said, it’s all based on expectations and projections, so chaos and luck play a part.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          FWIW, Hertz ordered 100k Teslas in Oct 2021, 65k Polestars in Apr 2022, and 175k GM EVs in Sep 2022 (all to be delivered over several years).

          Tesla may eventually dominate in revenue by staying with premium models, as Daimler (Mercedes Benz), which sells fewer units to make its money.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          In any case, I see Tesla more as the Energy investment category than Automakers.

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