Toyota to Collaborate With Texas-based Utility Provider Oncor to Accelerate a Vehicle-to-Grid EV Charging Ecosystem

Toyota to Collaborate With Texas-based Utility Provider Oncor to Accelerate a Vehicle-to-Grid EV Charging Ecosystem

Author: FutureCar Staff    

Toyota Motor North America (Toyota) and Texas-based utility company Oncor will collaborate on a pilot project to expand vehicle-to-grid (V2G), charging technology. V2G technology allows the energy from an electric vehicle's battery to flow back to the grid when not being used. The project is Toyota's first collaboration with a public utility company. It will be led by the automaker's Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions (EVCS) team.

The research will allow Toyota and Oncor to be better prepared to support a more comprehensive EV charging ecosystem in the United States, as well as helping Toyota reach its sustainability goals. The collaboration with Toyota will also provide Oncor with additional insight into the infrastructure required to support the widespread rollout of V2G technology.

"Electrification is coming, and it's Oncor's job to build a safer, smarter, more reliable electric grid that can enable the needs of our customers, the state of Texas and the ERCOT market," said Jim Greer, Oncor Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. 

"This project marks the first collaboration of its kind between Oncor and an OEM manufacturer, and we are excited to work with a world-class technology leader like Toyota to better understand how the electric grid can enable V2G transactions across the Oncor service territory."

V2G charging technology allows EVs to communicate with the power grid to return electricity during peak times or by automatically throttling a vehicle's charging rate depending on the current electrical loads on the grid. While a vehicle is parked for example, electricity can flow bidirectionally, from the electric distribution network and back to the vehicle.  

The project in Texas will initially use Oncor's research and testing microgrid at its System Operating Services Facility (SOSF) in south Dallas, which is close to Toyota's U.S. headquarters. 

Oncor's research microgrid is composed of four interconnected microgrids that can be controlled independently, operated in parallel, tandem or combined into a single, larger grid system.

The microgrid and its subsystems also include a "V2G" charger, solar panels and stationary battery storage for testing and evaluation. Toyota and Oncor plan to use an EV with the system to better understand the interconnectivity between the vehicle and Oncor's electrical infrastructure.

"We envision a future where Toyota BEVs provide a best-in-class mobility experience, but also can be utilized by our customers to power their homes, their communities or even power back the electric grid in times of need," said Christopher Yang, group vice president of Toyota Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions team. 

Following the initial phase, the second phase of the project, which is slated for 2023, will include a V2G pilot where testing will be conducted with a Toyota EV that's connected at homes or businesses within Oncor's service territory.

Toyota is not alone in its work to connect EVs to the grid. In March, Ford Motor Co introduced bi-directional power technology for the new F-150 Lightning electric pickup in partnership with solar company Sunrun.

Ford's optional Intelligent Backup Power Home Integration System allows Ford F-150 Lightning owners to use their truck's substantial battery reserves as an emergency power source for their home. In the event of a power outage, The F-150 Lightning can help keep vital necessities up and running, such as lights, heating and air conditioning systems and refrigerators. 

Ford said it will introduce additional F-150 Lightning features in the future to help customers save money and take pressure off the electric grid during peak usage. For example, Ford Intelligent Power will one day allow customers to power their homes with their truck's battery when electricity rates are higher, while charging the truck when rates are lower.

In May 2021, A 33-month long project in Sweden began with participation from Volvo's electric brand Polestar. The project is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency and is exploring the feasibility of using electric vehicles as a source of renewable energy, including for homes.

Toyota is still in the early stages of electrifying its model lineup. Over the past several years, the company remained focused on hybrid vehicle technology. The company recently unveiled its redesigned Prius, which is a result of those efforts. However, Toyota and other automakers must  address the needs of its EV customers, which includes having adequate EV charging infrastructure.

Toyota's first mass-market fully-electric vehicle , the bZ4X SUV, went on sale this past year in the U.S. and Canada. The automaker also launched a fully-electric model under its luxury brand Lexus called the RZ 450e, which is scheduled to go on sale early next year.

FutureCar Staff
FutureCar Staff
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