GM, Ford Announce New Tech Plans

GM and Ford will team up with utility and tech companies for new auto features.
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By Althea Chang of MainStreet

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- General Motors plans to partner with utility companies to charge the automaker's much-anticipated Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the company announced at this week's New York International Auto Show.

GM will work with utilities in test markets nationwide, including Con Edison in New York, to set up charging stations to power the Chevy Volt. Unlike other gas-electric hybrids, the Volt runs primarily on electricity, but when its battery is depleted, gasoline is used to power its electric motor.

GM's Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

GM plans to make 100 Volts available in test markets, and with the help of 10 utilities nationwide, about 500 charging stations will be installed in homes and in parking lots.

While GM wouldn't say when the Volt is expected to officially launch, it will be in test markets in California, Michigan and Washington, D.C. later this year, likely in the fourth quarter.

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Ford Motor

(F) - Get Report

, is also teaming up with

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

to develop a way to use the tech company's Hohm utility monitoring.

The Microsoft Hohm system, is currently offered for tracking homeowners' electricity usage, but the two companies are specifically working on incorporating electric car charging elements to the system. The Hohm system will remain free, according to Nancy Gioia, Ford's head of Global Electrification.

Hohm users will eventually have smart phone applications allowing them to remotely check the progress of their car charging and set the time of day they'd like to charge, says Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Ford had previously worked with Microsoft on the automaker's Sync navigation and entertainment system.

Written by Althea Chang in New York

This article was written by a staff member of MainStreet.com.