The University of Delaware is making a small number of BMW Mini-E EVs available for lease as part of an ongoing vehicle-to-grid (V2G) demonstration project. “Individual drivers are now needed to expand the demonstration over a wider range of driving patterns,” said project leader Willett Kempton.
The Grid on Wheels program will lease the vehicles for $3,600 per year, for two years, which includes any major maintenance needed. Lessees must be Delmarva Power electric customers, and must buy an EV charger. If the car is kept plugged in most of the time when not driving, owners can earn payments of roughly $100 per month, or $1,200 per year.
V2G technology was developed at the University of Delaware by Professor Kempton and EV pioneer Tom Gage. Gage’s company, EV Grid, is a partner in the Grid on Wheels program (read more details in our recent feature article on Gage). In response to signals from the grid operator, a vehicle can discharge its battery in order to help keep the grid stable. This grid regulation is a revenue-generating service that electric utilities pay for – traditionally, it’s done by generators, but batteries are more effective because they can respond faster to grid demands.
BMW built a few hundred units of the Mini-E, which uses a powertrain from AC Propulsion, in 2009-2010. The company moved on to the ActiveE and its new production EV, the i3, but the Mini-E is handy for V2G applications, because it was built with a bidirectional charger.