BMW North America takes smart charging with renewables nationwide

ChargeForward generally prioritises charging with renewable energy and was already available in some states across the US through partnerships with various utility providers, such as PG&E in California, Duke Energy in North Carolina, DTE in Michigan, Xcel Energy in Colorado, and SMUD in Sacramento, CA.

Today, BMW North America said it has now expanded to all 48 lower states.

This is a big step up, considering ChargeForward initially launched in 2015 and ran as a pilot for many years, with PG&E reportedly being a key partner, nowadays also for V2X. In May this year, PG&E said the program led to 1.4 million miles in California being powered by 100% renewable energy in 2022.

In today’s news, BMW wants to utilise such data across the United States. The company says that using carbon data specific to the electric grid in each region now enabled near nationwide incentives for charging at times when renewable energy is highest on the grid.

Said data comes through new partners such as UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center. The TSRC will evaluate BMW’s smart charging programs and quantify the carbon emission reductions in an effort to track the impact of ChargeForward, writes the company.

BMW will also use carbon data provided by WattTime, a tech non-profit organisation that analyses the grid, to determine the carbon emissions caused by electricity use in various locations throughout the US.

Drivers do not need to do much – the program is free and digital. It utilises the in-car Connected Drive system to communicate to the vehicle the best times to charge, meaning when the most renewable energy is available. The car then schedules a charging time also considering the desired departure, so BMW.

Drivers can enrol online and do not need to install any hardware to participate. Moreover, when opting in, they may earn cash by participating in “up to ten smart charging events per month”. BMW also lists ‘Quarterly Carbon Dividend’ incentives, which are paid out based on total customer participation and total carbon reductions – so the more, the merrier.

“The national expansion of BMW ChargeForward is yet another step in our endeavour to provide customers with the best possible charging experience,” said Thomas Ruemenapp, VP of engineering, BMW of North America. “Empowering our drivers to play an active role in reducing carbon emissions and increasing their renewable energy usage is an innovative way to use vehicle charging to further the environmental benefits of electric vehicles.”

For BMW, the expansion further marks the “next phase” in testing “groundbreaking ways to use EVs as a flexible grid resource”.

On the same note, the Group announced plans for the joint venture ChargeScape with Ford and Honda this September. Set up to create a low-cost platform that connects energy providers with carmakers in the USA and Canada, BMW added today that it would also support the ChargeForward program and connect to even more utilities as a single point of contact. This will allow the program to scale up and integrate with the respective utilities.

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