BMW EV charging
BMW, Ford and Honda are moving into energy management with the launch of a new, equally owned company, ChargeScape. Photo: BMW

ChargeScape will create a new Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform to link utilities, OEMs and EV drivers to increase charging efficiency

BMW, Ford and Honda are moving into energy management with the launch of a new, equally owned company, ChargeScape.

The aim is to make electric vehicle charging and grid services more efficient by connecting electric utilities, automakers and EV customers. ChargeScape will do this by creating a Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform (OVGIP) to allow utility providers in Canada and the U.S. access to battery energy and data from EVs connected to the grid.

“Electric vehicles are unlocking entirely new benefits for customers that can save them money while supporting grid resiliency and increase the use of clean, renewable energy,” said Bill Crider, global head of charging and energy services, at Ford Motor Co. in a press statement.

“ChargeScape will help accelerate the true potential of the EV revolution by providing significant benefits to both utilities and EV customers through smart vehicle-to-grid services.”

Currently, no utility providers are participating in this initiative.

However, if utilities do choose to participate, the sharing of demand responses, charging, EV battery utilization and availability of high renewable energy data will help them manage the grid more effectively and more cost-efficiently, say BMW, Ford and Honda.

EV owners must opt-in to take part. But participating EV users will receive financial rewards by charging their vehicles during non-peak times. Eventually, and depending on their vehicle’s capabilities, they may also be able to share power with the grid during times of peak demand through vehicle-to-grid (V2G).

“While seamless integration between EV customers and utilities will be key to energy management success, participating EV customers will always remain in control of their charging and energy decisions,” say BMW, Ford and Honda.

Pending regulatory approvals, ChargeScape will start operating in early 2024.

Purpose of the platform

ChargeScape’s main objective is to make the power grid more sustainable.

“Electric grid reliability and sustainability are the foundation for an EV-powered future,” said Thomas Ruemenapp, vice-president, engineering, BMW of North America.

“ChargeScape aims to accelerate the expansion of smart charging and vehicle-to-everything solutions all over the country, while increasing customer benefits, supporting the stability of the grid and helping to maximize renewable energy usage.”

It will do this by providing charging benefits to EV customers who enrol in the program. At the same time it will collect data on EV drivers (their locations) and charging behaviours.

This, says the OEM coalition, will simplify outreach costs for utilities trying to identify EV customers in their areas. Instead, the automakers’ will leverage their existing communication channels to reach customers.

ChargeScape says utility and customer participation in the program will reduce the environmental impact of EVs. This will be done by utilizing electricity generated from renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, says Honda, BMW and Ford.

Additionally, ChargeScape plans to use telematics built into EVs to schedule charging, which omits the need for Wi-Fi-enabled charging stations. This feature means EV owners without “smart” chargers at home can still participate.

The company’s founding trio is also open to other car manufacturers joining the venture.

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