BMW paying i3 electric car owners $1540 to delay charging in Bay Area

1 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

BMW i3 owners in the Bay Area are getting $1,000 not to charge at peak hours.

Up to 100 BMW i3 owners in the San Francisco area are being offered $1,000 to hold off on charging during hours when the electricity grid is stressed the most.In a new pilot program, a California utility is paying drivers of BMW electric cars to delay charging their vehicles when the power grid is under pressure.

News first surfaced earlier this year that Apple and BMW had engaged in negotiations over the possibility of the Cupertino company using components from the carmaker for its own electric vehicle project. The negotiations reportedly fell through following a visit by Tim Cook and other Apple execs to BMW in Germany, but a report from Reuters today adds that talks between the two companies “may be revived at a later stage.” The report also shares some more insight into Cook’s visit to BMW, noting that talks have stalled due to Apple wanting to “explore developing a passenger car on its own”: The dialogue ended without conclusion because Apple appears to want to explore developing a passenger car on its own, one of the sources said… Also, BMW is being cautious about sharing its manufacturing know-how because it wants to avoid becoming a mere supplier to a software or internet giant… During the visit, Apple executives asked BMW board members detailed questions about tooling and production and BMW executives signaled readiness to license parts, one of the sources said. The environment would benefit radically if everyone had an electric car, but as the electric cars become more popular, utility companies have to figure out ways to support them. Peter Berman, a 70-year-old, semi-retired Los Altos psychologist, was selected from about 400 applicants. “My understanding is that we’ll get a text message that says ‘Hey, you’re charging your car right now, can you back off for an hour?’” said Berman, who began leasing his $40,000-plus i3 in October. “This is the wave of the future.

According to the original report last week from German publication Manager Magazin, Apple is interested in the body of BMW’s i3 electric car, a generally well-received vehicle that gets about 80 miles on a charge and has an optional petrol-based range extender which can add a few gallons worth of range to the vehicle for longer trips. The chosen customers will also be eligible for an additional bonus of up to $540 at the end of the program, but that amount “will be determined by individual participation levels throughout the 18-month program,” according to BMW. (Drivers have the ability to opt out of participation for one day at a time, which would presumably lower the amount they’re eligible for.) About 400 people have applied and the last few spots are still being filled, according to BMW. I’m really curious as to how this is all going to unfold.” The PG&E-BMW pilot is one of myriad experiments under way worldwide as utilities try to anticipate what will happen if (or when) millions of electric vehicles pour onto city streets and highways.

However it adds the following comment from a “senior BMW source” that noted Apple was impressed with the i3 during its visit: “Apple executives were impressed with the fact that we abandoned traditional approaches to car making and started afresh. It chimed with the way they do things too.” Details of Apple’s electric car project was first reported early this year with hundreds of employees reportedly working on the project after an approval from Tim Cook a year prior. The drivers can select their preferred driving hours, which BMW will keep in mind when choosing which customers they’ll request to refrain from charging.

Power companies have also made a habit of incentivizing customers not to use power during peak hours by offering time-of-use pricing and a number of other rebates. The i ChargeForward program is unlikely to spark sales of the i3 specifically, but by piloting the new program BMW is helping make the idea of purchasing an electric vehicle even more attractive. Thirteen Nissan Leafs are among 36 vehicles being tested at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, currently the largest vehicle- to-grid demonstration project in the world.

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