Automakers are starting to team up with electric utilities to accelerate the push to build out the infrastructure needed to make electric vehicles a viable option for more U.S. consumers.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the mass adoption of EVs is whether U.S. power grids will be able to power the batteries of vehicles that are charged at businesses and homes.
More than 530,000 new battery-electric vehicles were registered in the U.S. through September. Recognizing that the demand is coming, traditional automakers are setting up new business units to tackle the issue.
This week, Toyota said it will collaborate with Oncor, a Dallas electric transmission and distribution company, on a pilot project testing out its vehicle-to-grid technology. V2G allows EVs to send energy from their batteries back onto the electric grid.
This marks the first partnership between the Toyota Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions team and a U.S. public utility focused on BEVs. Toyota will use the results from its research with Oncor to inform the nascent buildout of a broader EV charging ecosystem in the U.S.
The automaker envisions its battery-powered EVs being used by customers to power their homes and communities, even sending power back to the grid in times of need, such as storms and other emergencies, said Christopher Yang, group vice president of Toyota Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions.
“Our collaboration with Oncor is an important step for us to understand the needs of utilities, as we plan to work closely with them to ensure every community can embrace Toyota’s shift to electrified vehicles,” Yang said.
Toyota will use the utility company’s research and testing microgrid at a Dallas facility, south of the Japanese automaker’s U.S. headquarters in Plano, Texas, for the first phase of the project. The automaker will connect its V2G charger, solar panel and battery storage technology to Oncor’s System Operating Services Facility microgrid — made up of four interconnected microgrids that can be controlled independently or operated in parallel, tandem, or combined into a single, larger system. Researchers will hook a BEV up to the microgrid to better understand how the vehicle can be used with a utility.
The second phase of the project will be launched in 2023 and connect Toyota BEVs to homes and businesses within Oncor’s service territory.
In another partnership announced this week, Stellantis, parent company of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said it will participate in Detroit-based DTE Energy’s voluntary renewable energy program, MIGreenPower, to add 400 megawatts of new solar projects in Michigan. That is enough to power 130,000 homes annually.
Stellantis’ involvement in the program is part of the automaker’s push to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions globally by 2038 and to ensure every vehicle it manufactures in Michigan uses 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2026.