BMW of North America and PG&E begin V2X test initiative around smart charging

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BMW of North America and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) are jointly testing how vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology could be used to offset growing pressure on the power grid, improve reliability for electricity customers and maximize the use of renewable energy.

The V2X testing extends an existing partnership between the two companies until March 2026. The partnership originally sought to advance V2X tech and explore the use of EVs as a flexible grid resource. It will build on the ChargeForward smart charging program, which offers PG&E customers who drive BMW EVs incentives to align vehicle charging with renewable energy.

“Electric grid sustainability is becoming an increasingly complex challenge across the US,” said Adam McNeill, vice president of engineering at BMW of North America. “That’s why we started our ChargeForward program in 2015, to connect our vehicles, our customers and the grid. V2X takes smart charging to the next level, exploring how EV batteries can be used for backup generation and other grid services.  We’re excited to continue pursuing additional customer benefits while helping make the grid more dependable and sustainable.”

Testing is being carried out at PG&E’s Applied Technology Services (ATS) Lab in San Ramon, California. So far, the pilot has assessed how a typical home could maximize its renewable energy usage by switching between EV battery-stored renewable energy and grid-provided renewable energy. Results have shown that a vehicle-to-home connected EV is capable of providing roughly twice the amount of renewable energy that a typical California household would use on an average day.

Testing is also offering insights into how V2X vehicles perform in real-world scenarios, taking into consideration vehicle functionality and driver behavior to ensure that EVs can be used as a viable grid resource while still meeting customer needs. PG&E and BMW are also hoping to uncover other customer and utility benefits.

“The utility and automotive industries are creating a transformative clean energy future together. At PG&E we are working with partners like BMW to unleash the full potential of EVs to enhance grid resilience and reliability for our customers while reducing carbon emissions in our hometowns,” said Aaron August, PG&E vice president of utility partnerships and innovation. “Clean-powered EVs are vital to the battle against climate change. Using V2X technology to create virtual power plants from EVs can help utilities like ours meet peak electricity demand without the need for non-renewable energy resources. With smart, managed bi-directional charging, we can decarbonize our planet at a lower cost to our customers.”

In the next stage of the collaboration, BMW and PG&E will work together to continue testing V2X-enabled vehicles, specifically vehicle-to-grid (V2G), in a field trial at the BMW Group Technology Office USA in Mountain View, California. BMW will develop a test fleet of V2X vehicles that will be used in day-to-day operations and serve as a grid resource to help integrate renewable energy and balance the grid. This field test will evaluate how V2X technology can be used for advanced use cases that can be commercialized in the future and help support renewable integration on a neighborhood level to increase grid reliability on a larger scale.

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Rachel's career in journalism has seen her write for various titles at UKi Media & Events within automotive, tire and marine. Currently editor of ATTI, her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the groundbreaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of transportation.

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