Volvo and BMW are showing ways that electric vehicles can be used for more than just driving.
Stationary electric cars have the potential to power houses and appliances -- and also return power to the energy grid.
Volvo is launching a new business unit to capitalize on that potential and help support the transition to a smarter, more sustainable and more efficient energy grid.
Volvo Cars Energy Solutions will offer energy storage and charging-related technologies and services.
Bi-directional charging is a technology that allows an electric car to give back extra battery power to a compatible grid, helping to balance the grid during peak hours and reduce the need for fossil-generated electricity.
Volvo’s fully electric EX90 SUV will be the automaker’s first vehicle equipped with all the necessary hardware and (over time) software to enable bi-directional charging and direct energy storage from solar.
The Swedish automaker is partnering with Göteborg Energi Nät AB, the local grid company in Gothenburg, to launch one of the first vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot programs that aims to test such V2G technologies on the local energy grid and in a home environment with real customers.
Volvo is also looking at vehicle-to-home products that allow consumers to send back energy to your house and lower their energy bill, as well as vehicle-to-load (V2L) services where an electric car battery powers camping gear or charges electric bicycle.
Meanwhile, BMW of North America is expanding its smart charging service, ChargeForward, in conjunction with the launch of the first all-electric BMW 5 Series, the BMW i5.
This expansion marks the next phase in the program, which is also testing groundbreaking ways to use EVs as a flexible grid resource.
All BMW battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles model years 2018 and up will be eligible to enroll in ChargeForward throughout the lower 48 states. The smart charging feature provides customers with incentives for aligning their vehicle charging with times when renewable energy is highest on the grid.
While ChargeForward is already available in some states across the U.S. through partnerships with various utility providers, it will now be accessible to all electrified vehicle customers by using carbon data specific to the electric grid in each region.
This allows BMW drivers to reduce their carbon footprint and support fluctuations in the electric grid, all while earning cash incentives. The program is free and digital, utilizing the Connected Drive system to communicate to the vehicle the best times to charge. Drivers can enroll online and do not need to install any hardware to participate.