BMW launches new service to optimize EV charging and integration into the ‘smart grid’


BMWi, the German automaker’s incubator for networked mobility services, visionary vehicle systems and sustainability concepts, is expanding its engagement in electric mobility with a new digital charging service (DCS) system.

The intelligent service is designed for predictive, convenient, cost-effective, and green-power optimized charging, by connecting electric vehicles with the world of energy. BMW is the first automobile manufacturer to offer its customers a system that intelligently incorporates charging into everyday life and also helps to considerably reduce charging costs. The DCS optimizes charging technology for BMWi and BMWi Performance vehicles and will be extended in a later phase to other brands. Pilot markets for the new service are Germany and the Netherlands, which will start in early 2017, with more countries to follow.

The DCS is based on two core functions – tariff and solar optimized vehicle charging – with the service carried out fully independently and autonomously. In the case of tariff-optimized charging, the DCS aligns the charging plan to the customer’s electricity tariff, with the cost-efficiency of the charging process improved and the vehicle automatically charged at the lowest electricity rates. In selected markets, BMWi cooperates with innovative energy providers, so that customers are even able to receive cost reimbursements. In the case of solar-optimized charging, the DCS is aligned to the vehicle owner’s domestic photovoltaic system. DCS predicts the solar power based on the weather forecast and the output of the installed photovoltaic system specified by the customer, and establishes a charging plan. The solar-generated electricity not being consumed in the home can be used for cost-efficient charging of the electric vehicle. The vehicle is automatically charged in optimum combination with the self-generated solar power, integrating with a smart energy grid.

The new service is part of BMW’s 360°ELECTRIC portfolio of products and services that are paving the way to an entirely emissions-free mobility ecosystem. The DCS is the result of broad research and cooperation projects in the USA (BMW ChargeForward), and Germany (eMOBILie). With the introduction of the DCS, BMWi is also launching two additional BMWi Wallbox models for convenient and fast charging at home or in private parking spaces. Due to recently developed charging electronics, they can now handle three-phase charging currents of up to 22kW. The top-of-the-range model is the Wallbox Connect, which features a factory-set wi-fi connection and is therefore an ideal match for the innovative DCS. It not only allows the user to record the amount of electricity generated via the Wallbox Connect separately for each vehicle, but can also export the data following the charging process, which is essential for recording overall running costs.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).