Ford, BMW, and Honda are joining forces to create a new vehicle-to-grid company that aims to help EV owners save money by sending energy back to the electrical grid.
The new company, ChargeScape, will “create a single, cost-effective platform connecting electric utilities, automakers and interested electric vehicle customers.” Through that platform, EV owners “earn financial benefits through a variety of managed charging and energy-sharing services never before possible with traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.”
The three automakers will each own an equal share of the new company, which is expected to ramp up operations starting next year, pending regulatory approval.
EVs are unique in their ability to send energy back to the grid, just as they pull it while charging. Many EVs are built with this so-called bidirectional charging capability, enabling the two-way flow of energy. In essence, it treats high-capacity lithium-ion batteries not only as tools to power EVs but also as backup storage cells to charge other electric devices, an entire home, or even to send power to the electrical grid for possible energy savings.
Ford, BMW, and Honda want to capitalize on this idea with their new company. ChargeScape, they promise, will help simplify the logistics so individual automakers won’t have to negotiate a plethora of deals with utility providers. Instead, utilities will be able to access energy from a variety of EVs through a single platform created by ChargeScape.
And the same will hold true for people who own EVs: they will get to use the platform to determine when’s the most “grid-friendly” time to charge their cars through “flexible and managed schedules.” ChargeScape also plans to develop products to help EV owners share their vehicle’s energy with the grid during times of peak demand through vehicle-to-grid applications.
It’s another example of ways in which the switch to electric vehicles has forced the auto industry to create a variety of alliances between competitors in order to share the costs associated with the switch. GM and Honda are collaborating on shared EV platforms. Seven major companies, including BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis, created a joint venture to build their own charging network in North America. And eight car companies have signed deals with Tesla to install the company’s EV charging plug in their future vehicles.