E-MOBILITY IS THE NEW NORMAL. It is also the motto for the BMW Group’s ongoing efforts to find new electrified mobility solutions – solutions that not only enable convenient charging with cheap, emission-free electricity wherever possible, but entirely redefine the premium driving experience. A stable power grid is key. That is why the BMW Mobility and Energy Services business unit is working hand-in-hand with the energy industry on a number of new projects.
The invention of the automobile in the 19th century enabled a previously-unseen level of spatial mobility that brought people from different countries closer together. Today, in the age of digitalisation, the latest technologies, including artificial intelligence and big data, are creating a totally new form of mobility in which people, vehicles and services everywhere are connected in real time. The BMW Group launched a new business segment under the name “project i” back in 2007 to address the mobility needs of the future: an environmentally-conscious lifestyle, an individualised driving experience and exclusive services. The BMW Group has since blazed a trail with the fully electric BMW i3, capturing a market share of 21.5% of new xEV registrations in Germany and 19.7% in Europe. By the end of 2019, the BMW Group is expected to have more than half a million electrified vehicles on the road.
The long-term goal is to integrate energy and mobility more and more closely. To achieve this, the BMW Mobility and Energy Services business unit is working with energy-industry representatives on new business models. For example, with “BMW ChargeForward” in California, the BMW Group has developed a project that aims to stabilise the grid by selling unused charging slots in the energy marketplace. For this purpose, BMW i3 drivers have agreed to let the BMW Group manage all charging processes during the vehicles’ everyday use. This meets customer needs and, at the same time, guarantees a stable supply of electricity. The driver specifies when their BMW i3 needs to be ready to drive again. In the background, charging plans are optimised to suit the grid operator’s requirements. The BMW Group is compensated for providing this flexibility – which ultimately benefits the customer.
The BMW Group’s electrified vehicles will soon also be “batteries on wheels”. In the future, electric cars will not only fill up on electricity, but also feed it back into the grid. This so-called bidirectional charging creates a flexible reserve for the electricity network.
Another BMW Mobility and Energy Services project is the Battery Storage Farm in Leipzig, which, since 2017, has housed up to 700 new and used BMW i3 batteries connected to the public grid. In this way, the BMW Group can support the energy sector by providing flexible energy storage: a win-win for everyone – which will only get bigger as more storage farms are built!
All of this is necessary to establish a stable energy network, able to meet the needs of electric-vehicle owners over the long term. However, additional measures will depend on creating the right conditions for a functioning charging infrastructure – especially on the political side. This is the only way to encourage private and commercial customers to switch to e-mobility. For this reason, as an innovation incubator, the BMW Group will continue to work on further solutions with energy-sector representatives and policymakers. We want our customers to benefit from a holistic range of products and services for electrified mobility. Our vision of the future is to provide customers with free energy for driving from carbon-neutral sources. Although there are still many obstacles to overcome, the BMW Group firmly believes that the fully-connected, emission-free mobility of tomorrow will soon be a reality.