How EV Owners Will Monetize Their Garage

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Jon Asmussen, Head of Business Development, Twilio IoT

Since 2015, electric vehicle (EV) ownership has increased on average 50% per year. That growth is only set to continue as EVs are projected to make up over 60% of global car sales by 2030. The increasing popularity of electric vehicles combined with global commitments to limit carbon emissions means that the combustion engine car of today may soon be the horse and cart of years gone by. We are officially ushering in the age of the electric vehicle.

It’s easy to understand why. Owning an EV comes with a wide range of benefits, such as emission-free transportation, near-silent operation, and significant savings on fuel. EV drivers also make the switch from fuelling up at gas stations to charging their cars, paying instead for the kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity.

The EV Charging Experience 

The charging experience itself, however, can range from seamless to downright inconvenient. Many people have a home charging setup in order to meet their charging needs, with standard home electrics delivering either Level 1 or Level 2 charging.

These will typically charge an EV in 4 to 24 hours, depending on whether it’s Level 1 (slower) or Level 2 (faster). Level 3 chargers, or “fast chargers,” can charge an EV in as little as 20 minutes. These tend to be public or commercial setups.

When it comes to fast chargers, drivers report a range of issues, from broken public chargers to lack of charger availability and inconsistent payment methods, such as having to use contactless payments for one charge point but in-app payments for another.

This unreliable experience can add time and stress to an EV driver’s day. The good news is that better customer experiences are on the horizon.

Improvements in EV Charging 

The industry is quickly developing fast chargers into “smart chargers.” These address some of the issues faced by customers by connecting the charger to cellular networks for always-on customer communication and consistent payment experiences (such as pay-by-text) as well as features like remote debugging and software updates.

Driven by companies like Twilio, public charging is rapidly becoming intertwined with software that creates a reliable experience for drivers. That means far fewer broken chargers and far better customer communication and payment processing.

Beyond a more reliable EV charging experience, companies are also experimenting with creating a more cost-effective charging experience. How? Bidirectional charging.

Bidirectional charge points pay EV drivers for sending electricity stored in their batteries back to the grid as needed. This allows EV drivers to make money back from their charging sessions, eventually monetizing their garages. Companies like Nissan have recently approved their first bidirectional charge points for public use.

How Bidirectional Charging Works 

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology allows energy to be pushed from an EV battery back to a power grid. This means that based on instruction, a car battery can either receive, hold, or return electricity, depending on the needs of the local area in terms of energy production and consumption.

EV batteries become, in that way, small power plants used for their storage capabilities. And the owners of those small power plants will be paid for their use.

This will be increasingly helpful moving forward, as it’s predicted that if all vehicles on the road are electric by 2050, it would increase global electricity demand by 27%. Hundreds of EVs charging in the mid-afternoon in one city, for example, will demand more energy from generators at that time, and the electricity will need to be regulated.

The New V2G Charging Experience 

The new charging experience will come with new charging technology. In order to assess demand on the electric grid and respond accordingly, charging stations will need to be equipped with software that communicates and executes charging adjustments and actions.

Companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Duke Energy are testing V2G chargers that achieve this, in addition to Nissan recently approving a bidirectional charger for use with the Nissan LEAF in the U.S.

So how might bidirectional charging look, day-to-day, for the driver? In terms of daily use, the average non-commercial consumer will most likely use apps to communicate when their EV will be free for grid use.

They’ll also need to decide and plan when their car needs to be charged, and to what minimum level.

However, with monetary driver compensation, many will find this slight inconvenience easy to handle. And with battery innovations such as the development of solid-state batteries, EVs may soon be able to go much further on much less charge.

In terms of the compensation, PG&E is launching three vehicle-to-everything (V2X) pilot programs that will allow EV drivers to earn money and offset energy use.

Residential customers are offered a $2,500 upfront payment ($3,000 for those in disadvantaged areas) and performance-based incentives up to $2,175 for providing stored energy to the grid during high-demand hours. Incentives for commercial and microgrids programs vary. Currently the only eligible vehicle is the Ford F-150 Lightning, with more vehicles expected to be eligible over the next couple years.

Other pilots on the way pairing utilities and car brands include Toyota’s V2G pilot and Duke Energy’s partnership with Ford.

For consumers, monetizing their garage in this way effectively lowers the lifetime cost of owning an electric vehicle.

Conclusion

As developments in the space continue to enhance the way that EV owners interact with the charging experience, the case for electric vehicle ownership becomes ever more compelling. Not only do EV drivers save on fuel, but they also will soon be compensated just for plugging in and letting their car do the work.

About the Author

Jon Asmussen has 20 years of experience in wireless telecommunications and software in roles spanning business development, sales, and product management. For over 10 years he has been focused on helping businesses achieve operational efficiencies leveraging IoT technologies. As head of business development for Twilio IoT, he is responsible for partnerships, channels, and market development. To hear more from Jon, follow him on LinkedIn.

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