German automobile giant BMW is to launch a new ‘Digital Charging Service’ (DCS) for its portfolio of electric vehicles early next year, promising to integrate EVs with national grids and on-site renewable generators.
BMW describes its new DCS as a “holistic product” designed to offer “intelligent charging services” to owners of its BMWi fleet of EVs. Customers can connect their vehicles to charging stations and then manage how and when the vehicle is charged via an online portal or mobile app.
Vehicles are synchronised to a user – personal or fleet manager – and the online portal displays aggregated vehicles, charging stations and charging ‘plans’ which can be selected and managed.
Charging plans are activated autonomously once selected, and use various algorithms and logics to determine the most favourable time frame and energy sources according to those plans. Customers can decide to charge their EV at the cheapest available time or to prioritise electricity from renewable generators.
Where available, BMW will also utilise the storage capabilities of the on-board battery to offer grid services. Any revenues derived from those services will be shared with the vehicle owner. BMW has partnered with Dutch energy providers Eneco and Jedlix for such services when it is launched in The Netherlands.
The service bears a resemblance to other vehicle-to-grid systems currently underway, most notably the trial Nissan is currently operating alongside energy company Enel.
BMW’s DCS also comes with a “solar-optimised” charging mode which can be aligned with a domestic or commercial solar PV system. When activated the DCS predicts the output of the system using its operational capacity and weather forecasts.
“In this way, the amount of electricity not consumed at the time of being generated in the home can also be used for cost-efficient charging of the electric vehicle. The vehicle is automatically charged in optimum combination with the self-generated solar power,” BMW said.
The DCS has emerged from a number of technology projects BMW has been running across the globe, most notably the BMW ChargeForward programme in the US and a separate project in Germany dubbed eMOBILie.
Pilot systems are to be rolled out in The Netherlands and the US in spring 2017, with additional European markets to follow later next year.