BMW, Honda, and Ford are combining forces in the US and have founded ChargeScape, a joint venture that connects energy providers and EV customers from the brands. The three automakers have been researching the possibility of a standard charging service network for some time and have turned their findings into a business.
ChargeScape is not a fast-charging network. The equally-owned platform connects utility companies with the car owners of BMW, Honda, and Ford and aims at cost-effectiveness for all parties when charging at home, work, or publicly.
To the benefit of all (customers)
Everyone benefits, according to the newly formed company. The energy provider can easily tap into a new customer pool, the smart management or energy must stabilize the grid, the EV owners will receive financial benefits, and the platform will unlock the possibilities of bidirectional charging.
With the latter, battery-powered vehicles can provide their stored energy to the grid, which is especially interesting in peak times. However, that technology isn’t readily available in the current EV generation from the involved automaker.
Chargescape wants to offer a solution as EVs will increasingly strain the electricity network and help utility companies so that a shortage doesn’t hamper their roll-out in energy provision.
Also, the US is considered to become a leader in electromobility just by sheer volume, as the zero-emission market will be vast. Car brands offering favorable charging schemes will have an edge over the competition.
The consortium isn’t an overnight idea. The trio of automakers were involved in the study, researching the feasibility of an open vehicle grid integration platform (OVGI). ChargeScape builds upon the years invested in this study.
What the brands say
Vice President of Engineering at BMW of North America Thomas Ruemenapp said: “ChargeScape aims to accelerate the expansion of smart charging and vehicle-to-everything solutions all over the country while increasing customer benefits, supporting the stability of the grid, and helping to maximize renewable energy usage.”
Bill Crider, global head of charging and energy services at Ford Motor Company, pointed out those benefits for utility companies. Direct access to the carmaker’s customers through ChargeScape can reduce marketing and outreach costs. “ChargeScape will help accelerate the true potential of the EV revolution by providing significant benefits to utilities and EV customers through smart vehicle-to-grid services,” he added.
“We must find solutions like ChargeScape that enable all stakeholders to work together for the good of our customers, society, and industry by enabling greater use of renewable energy for and from mobility,” said the Vice President of Sustainability and Business Development at Honda America Jay Joseph.
Ionity for America
The comment from Joseph focuses on the collaborations between automakers in connectivity services and charging. ChargeScape is not the only initiative. During the summer, seven car groups (BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis) announced they had joined forces to roll out a high-power network in the US. It must rise into a platform of 30 000 charging points for the US.
This mirrors what the Ionity project has established in Europe as a joint venture between carmakers to rapidly construct a fast charging network in a bid to rival Tesla. ChargeScape is the first cross-brand collaboration to focus on low-power and peak-shaving while including the grid benefits of two-way charging.
It seems unlikely that the three car manufacturers will pursue a similar project in Europe. The local market shares for Honda and Ford don’t justify prioritizing these customers, while the landscape of utility companies is much more complex.