Toyota is the latest automaker to work with an electric utility to use EVs to help the grid.
The automaker on Thursday announced a pilot project with Texas-based utility Oncor for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, which allows EVs to feed energy back into the grid. Other automakers and utilities have already expressed interest in V2G as a way to help smooth the shift in supply and demand, taking some of the pressure off power-generating infrastructure.
According to a press release, this is Toyota’s first such collaboration with a utility, and the automaker hopes to learn more about the potential of V2G technology from it.
2023 Toyota bZ4X will be used in V2G pilot project with utility Oncor
“We envision a future where Toyota BEVs provide a best-in-class mobility experience, but can be used by our customers to power their homes, their communities or even the electric grid when needed,” said Christopher Young, Group Toyota Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions. Vice President, said in a statement.
For now, though, the effort seems fairly small-scale. It will use Oncor’s test “microgrid” located at the utility’s System Operating Services Facility (SOSF) in south Dallas, not far from Toyota’s US headquarters. The microgrid includes a V2G-capable EV charger, as well as solar panels and battery storage, according to Toyota. However, it is not clear whether multiple EVs will be plugged into the system at once.
“Toyota and Ankar plan to use a BEV with the system to better understand the interconnection between BEVs and utilities,” the release said. Vehicles used could include the bZ4X, the first mass-produced Toyota EV for the US, or the Lexus RZ, a close relative of the automaker’s luxury brand.
2023 Lexus RZ
Toyota has so far devoted much effort to how its hydrogen fuel-cell technology can help smooth the grid. This is in keeping with a strategy that favors fuel-cell vehicles as an alternative EV, which Toyota now appears to be changing.
Meanwhile, V2G has received significant attention from industry stakeholders. California has already said it considers V2G technology useful to support the grid and is currently working on the regulatory framework. A recent round of studies in 2020 showed how V2G technology could be standardized, allowing connected EVs to help power the grid.
Recent California heat waves have prompted warnings about EV charging practices — and Texas has shown trouble meeting demand during unusual weather. Tesla demonstrated a different solution through a program with California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E): using thousands of Powerwall battery packs to form a “virtual power plant.”