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BMW expands smart charging service ChargeForward across lower 48

BMW of North America announced the national expansion of its smart charging service, ChargeForward, in conjunction with the launch of the first all-electric BMW 5 Series, the BMW i5. All BMW battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) model years 2018 and up will be eligible to enroll in ChargeForward throughout the lower 48 states.

The smart charging feature provides customers with incentives for aligning their vehicle charging with times when renewable energy is highest on the grid.

While ChargeForward is already available in some states across the US through partnerships with various utility providers, it will now be accessible to all electrified vehicle customers by utilizing carbon data specific to the electric grid in each region.

This allows BMW drivers to reduce their carbon footprint and support fluctuations in the electric grid, all while earning cash incentives. The program is completely free and digital, utilizing the Connected Drive system to communicate to the vehicle the best times to charge. Drivers can enroll online and do not need to install any hardware to participate.

This expansion marks the next phase in the company’s ChargeForward program, which leads the sector in testing ways to use EVs as a flexible grid resource.

As another example of this effort, earlier this year BMW announced plans for the joint venture ChargeScape together with two additional automakers. This joint venture will support BMW’s ChargeForward program and connect to even more utilities as a single point of contact. This will allow the program to scale-up and integrate with the respective utilities.

How it Works. ChargeForward intelligently sets a schedule that charges the vehicle during optimal times of the day. Charging is aligned to the times with the lowest carbon intensity in a customer’s city or region. Drivers earn incentives when they agree to shift their EV charging to times when renewable energy is plentiful and away from times when electricity is in high demand. The vehicle will complete its charging prior to a set departure time, ensuring that customers can meet all their driving needs for the day ahead.

There are two types of incentives customers can earn:

  • Cash incentives, by participating in up to 10 smart charging events per month.

  • Quarterly Carbon Dividend incentives, that are cash incentives which are paid out based on total customer participation and total carbon reductions.

BMW is partnering with UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) to evaluate the company’s smart charging programs and quantify the carbon emission reductions, in an effort to track the impact of ChargeForward.

BMW will also use carbon data provided by WattTime, a tech non-profit organization that analyzes the electric grid to determine the carbon emissions caused by electricity use in various locations throughout the US.

This expanded national program will co-exist with current ChargeForward utility partners in specific regions: PG&E in Northern/Central California; Duke Energy in Charlotte, North Carolina; DTE in Detroit, Michigan; Xcel Energy in Colorado; and SMUD in Sacramento, California. BMW will continue to expand to new utilities to offer added benefits and incentives to our drivers through our ChargeScape joint venture.

The national expansion of ChargeForward is one of several charging infrastructure initiatives the company has recently announced, including its joint venture with six other OEMs to build a high-powered charging network across North America. In addition, BMW recently launched the Plug & Charge feature for its vehicles on the Electrify America network. This will make the individual charging session more convenient for customers by eliminating the need for an app or charger interaction.

Finally, to give customers access to more public chargers in North America, BMW will introduce Shell Recharge as additional public charging partner. With this, customers will gain access to more than 100,000 additional chargers, everything fully integrated into the myBMW App and vehicle head-unit.


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