CES: BMW ChargeForward trial and Home Charging Services

January 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

bmw solar carportBMW is to trial grid-balancing, grid optimisation and cost-efficiency with Pacific Gas & Electric Company in its i ChargeForward Program, and is looking to recruit up to 100 i3 drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The 18-month program, to start in July 2015, will look at managed/deferred charging (controlled via smartphone app), and also at second-life battery applications – eight used Mini E batteries (with a remaining 70% capacity) are to be repurposed into a static solar system at the BMW tech office in Mountain View to store energy and return it to the grid. The i ChargeForward app to be trialled includes informing drivers that – due to peak grid load – charging will be stopped for up to an hour (unless they opt to continue). Also at CES, BMW demoed its i Home Charging Services, a development (pictured, in solar carport) using the Wallbox Pro to automatically charge a vehicle from cheaper off-peak power or the house’s own domestic solar electricity when available; it also showed a concept static home energy storage system using repurposed i-car batteries. More on all the above here in handy rundown; full BMW CES presskit here.

  • Toyota announced at CES that it’s doing its bit to shape the future of mobility as hydrogen-driven, and has made over 5,680 of its fuel cell-related patents royalty-free, including those for technology in the new Mirai saloon; around 1,970 of these are related to fuel cell stacks, 290 with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 with fuel cell control system software and 70 to hydrogen production and supply. “By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically”, said Bob Carter, Senior VP of Automotive Operations, Toyota Motor Sales USA. Patents will be available to automakers, fuel cell component suppliers, energy companies and firms developing/making fuel cell buses and industrial vehicles such as forklift trucks; applications for non-transportation applications “will be evaluated on a case by case basis”. Toyota’s release also refers to “the company’s aggressive support for developing a hydrogen-based society”. Indeed. More detail here.
  • Audi has confirmed that its autonomously-driven A8 will go on sale in 2016: the tech will only be operating at up to 60kph and for parking manoeuvres, but this is indicative of the incremental introduction of self-driving vehicles. More here. Audi demoed its A7 Piloted Driving Prototype at CES, having had it guide itself from Palo Alto, California, to Vegas. And Volkswagen is also doing the automated-parking thing – and taking it a stage further with the e-Golf. It’s wired one up for inductive charging, and you can remotely position the car on the induction plate to maximise its uptake; more here.
  • Here’s the kind of emerging service which could aid electromobility: Powertree Services has launched (in San Francisco) rental of parking spaces in apartment buildings with hook-up to rooftop solar panels for EV-charging. Drivers can charge their cars at their own building or other Powertree facilities, building owners/freeholders can earn money from the rental of parking spaces (and rooftop space). (Via Treehugger).
  • Chip-maker NVIDIA is gunning for the autonomous car market, reports Transport Evolved, which quotes CEO Jen-Hsung Huan as saying: “Mobile supercomputing will be central to tomorrow’s car. With vast arrays of cameras and displays, cars of the future will see and increasingly understand their surroundings. Whether finding their way back to you from a parking spot or using situational awareness to keep them out of harm’s way, future cars will do many amazing, seemingly intelligent things. Advances in computer vision, deep learning and graphics have finally put this dream within reach”. NVIDIA’s Drive PX ‘deep learning’ system enables auto parking space location and parking – and for the owner to later summon and ‘meet’ their car at an arranged location.



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