Toyota EV
A Toyota electric vehicle at a charging station. Courtesy SDG&E

 San Diego Gas & Electric and Toyota of North America Tuesday announced a collaboration on vehicle-to-grid research for battery electric vehicles using a Toyota bZ4X, an all-electric SUV.

The research is intended to explore bidirectional power flow technology that enables battery electric vehicle (BEV) owners to both charge their vehicle’s batteries from the electric grid and discharge electricity from the batteries back to the grid, a joint statement from the companies read.

“We are embracing the concept of an entire electrified ecosystem for our customers, and the ability for vehicles to integrate with the grid is an essential component of this ecosystem,” said Christopher Yang, group vice president of Toyota EV Charging Solutions. “Working with leading utilities, such as SDG&E, will ensure that customers can continue to confidently charge at home.

“Toyota seeks to empower utilities to better anticipate and leverage the significant number of plug-in hybrid and BEVs on their grids, both as a growing source of energy demand and, in the future, energy supply,” Yang said.

The V2G research will take place at SDG&E’s campus in San Diego. To date, the company has installed more than 3,600 chargers at workplaces, schools, and parks, as well as industrial and commercial facilities. The utility company has electrified more than 20% of its over-the-road fleet, a statement reads.

“V2G has the potential to be a game changer for the power grid and for consumers, and we’re proud to partner with Toyota to advance this technology,” said SDG&E Chief Commercial Officer Miguel Romero. “Together, we’re forging new pathways toward a sustainable and resilient energy future for our customers and the communities we serve.”

According to the companies, nearly 80% of owners charge their BEVs at home overnight, when grid demand is lower. With bidirectional capability, these vehicles could send power back to the grid during peak demand hours or at other critical times, such as during rotating outages due to shortage in electricity supplies.

The pilot will also assist SDG&E in “understanding the infrastructure needed to enable the rapid growth of EV charging infrastructure, both in public and private settings, and to further stabilize the power grid during peak hours,” according to the utility company.

Toyota offers two mass-market BEVs in the U.S. and Canada — the Toyota bZ4X and Lexus RZ 450e. The company recently announced plans for a new three-row BEV SUV that will be assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky in 2025. By 2030, the automaker plans to offer 30 BEV models globally across its Toyota and Lexus brands and produce up to 3.5 million BEVs annually.

–City News Service