General Electric (GE) and Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. recently agreed to a joint two-year research project to help speed up the development of a reliable and robust “refueling” infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) – an effort designed to spur what Nissan calls “mass market adoption” of EVs.

GE and Nissan have identified two key focus areas for the research efforts, the first relating to the integration of EVs with homes and buildings, with the second looking at EV charging dynamics and the future impact on the grid once millions of electric cars are on the road.

Both companies added that this joint research effort aims to answer other key questions as well, such as how “smart energy management” systems for homes and buildings can be leveraged to support the management of EV charging; how to take advantage of energy storage and renewable power, such as home solar arrays, to reliably manage and meet the power needs of electric cars; and if there are new ways to directly link charging stations with renewable power sources?

As a result, several projects are already underway to try and answer these questions.

One is focused on how electric cars like Nissan’s LEAF can be incorporated into GE’s overall concept for a “Smart Home.” Nissan engineers are developing methods to connect the vehicle to the home, making it a more integrated part of the building’s energy equipment, while GE’s engineer look at how the addition of an electric car impacts the cost of electricity and changes overall home electricity loads.

In another study, researchers from both companies will use aggregate usage data along with sophisticated simulation and modeling experiments, to analyze the effect millions of electric cars could have on our electrical distribution system.

“As the U.S. and world move toward electric vehicles, the automotive sector is forming new industry connections that extend well beyond the traditional OEM space,” said Mark Little, senior vp and director of GE Global Research.

“One of the biggest connections being made is with companies that generate and provide electricity,” he explained. “As a major provider of power generation equipment and energy services, GE is in a great position to help the automotive industry bring millions of electric vehicles onto the grid.”

Carla Bailo, Nissan’s senior vp-research and development for the Americas, added that the focus on infrastructure development in partnership with GE “will help us create better conditions in the market for electric cars like our LEAF, and add value for our customers both now and in the future.”