Ever since Tesla launched its own ‘Tesla Energy’ division to address the energy storage and generation side of the electric vehicle revolution, several automakers have launched similar programs.
Audi becomes the latest with its ‘Smart Energy Network’.
The program is currently being tested in a pilot project in households located in the Ingolstadt area and the Zurich region.
They are combining electric vehicle charging, energy storage, and solar power to provide balancing services to the grid with benefits for both the homeowner/electric car owner and the electric utility.
Dr. Hagen Seifert, Head of Sustainable Product Concepts at Audi, commented:
“We are looking at electric mobility in the context of an overall energy supply system that is increasingly based on renewables. We are playing a pioneering role with the prequalification of the balancing-power market – enabling producers to feed power into the grid, as part of the pilot project. That is now for the first time also possible down at the level of individual households, which helps balance the entire power grid,”
In a press release, the German automaker confirms that it is “looking at services that extend beyond the automobile as a product” and in this case, they are talking about “stationary storage batteries, like Tesla’s Powerwall.
The ‘Audi Smart Energy Network’ is still only in the development phase and there’s no word on a timeline for a commercial launch.
It’s fascinating to see this trend of established automakers going into the energy business to complement their electric car efforts.
Audi didn’t have much choice as it’s not just about competing with Tesla Energy, but also Mercedes-Benz and BMW, which have both launched their energy storage efforts over the last year.
BMW unveiled an energy storage project using up to 1,000 BMW i3 battery packs last year and they released a product to mount i3 battery packs to walls in order to turn them into a home energy storage system. The systems act as Tesla Powerpack and Powerwall competitors.
Mercedes-Benz did the same with an energy storage facility using electric Smart car battery packs and they developed a more complete Powerwall competitor than BMW’s mounting system.
Like Tesla, it looks like all these companies are leveraging their development of battery packs for electric vehicles to build these products, while also seeing the advantages of combining the technology with electric vehicle deployment.
Hopefully, more of these products start hitting the market in volume and we start to see some real competition in the sector.