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BMW i ChargeForward Pilot Launches In San Francisco

BMW and Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) have partnered to launch an 18-month pilot of the BMW i ChargeForward Program in San Francisco, according to recent reports.

The pilot program will see roughly 100 BMW i3 drivers — selected from around 400 applicants — participate in a demonstration of the ways that “intelligent” managing of electric vehicle (EV) charging can be used to improve electric grid efficiency, while also lowering the operating costs of EVs.


The goal of the program — to be achieved via the managed pilot involving i3 owners, and via “a battery second-life energy storage system” pilot that combines with solar power — is to offer PG&E up to 100 kilowatts (kW) of capacity at any one time. This is regardless of the number of EVs charging at the time, as part of “Demand Response.”

PG&E gets a more efficient grid and reduced need for expensive peaker plants, and the i3 drivers get some financial incentives in return.

Green Car Congress provides more:

In the managed charge pilot program, BMW i3 owners will allow BMW to delay the charging of their vehicles by up to an hour, based on requests received from PG&E when grid loads are at their peak. Throughout the 18-month pilot, BMW will manage the charging of participating BMW i3 vehicles, while prioritizing the e-mobility needs of participants based on timing by which vehicles should be fully charged, as communicated through a smartphone app.

For each program “event”—when PG&E experiences peak load conditions—participants whose vehicles are selected for delayed charging will receive a text message notifying them that their vehicle charging will be halted for up to one hour, thereby temporarily reducing the load on the power grid. Using the BMW i ChargeForward smartphone app, participants can choose to opt out of any request based on their driving needs, however, and their vehicle charging will continue uninterrupted—for example, if they need to depart for a trip during peak load times and need a full charge sooner.

As a means of rewarding those participating in the project, drivers will be awarded $1,000 at the start of the pilot and up to $540 at the end — depending on their level of participation.

The Advanced Technology Engineer of Sustainable Mobility, at the BMW Group USA, Julia Sohnen, commented: “One thing that we’ll be investigating with this pilot is understanding how people charge, how flexible they are with respect to when they charge, and how best to design future products in way that benefits both customers and utilities.”

Image by Zachary Shahan | EV Obsession | CleanTechnica (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.


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