BMW continues to dip its toes into the pool of electric vehicles, but it is still not planning to jump into the deep end.
BMW will lease 700 all-electric cars in the U.S. starting in 2012. The BMW ActiveE promises to be all things to all people. It's a good-looking 1 Series Coupe that has a 100-mile range at a lease price that most people (read: BMW drivers) could embrace: $499/month with $2,250 down.
The carmaker already has an all-electric Mini E, which Michael Kanellos argued was the most fun all-electric to drive, outside of a Tesla Roadster or X-1 prototype from Wrightspeed.
To show how the ActiveE will fit in with an energy-conscious and connected lifestyle, BMW is building a demonstration home in Mountain View, Calif.
Tendril’s platform will leverage off-peak charging while also ensuring the ActiveE is ready when it needs to be. The home will be equipped with an AeroVironment charging station, smart thermostats from Tendril, solar panels, smart appliances and connected lighting.
For Tendril, this is not only a foray into charging, but into the ‘everything else’ of a connected home. The Boulder, Co.-based smart grid company focuses on energy, but sees its Energize platform as something much greater than just an energy controls platform.
“We’re tying energy to products that matter,” said Dennis Kyle, senior director of strategic development at Tendril. Working with BMW on the ActiveE is part of Tendril’s plan to fill out the silos of smart home, which include appliances, HVAC, renewables and connected vehicles.
Tendril recently launched an app developer website and ran a smart home app contest that came with a $5,000 prize. Tendril is also working big names, such as Whirlpool, to integrate its smart appliances into the platform.
Electric vehicles need to be connected to the home to avoid charging during peak, or when the AC is likely to be running at full blast. But Tendril’s platform isn’t just for EVs, said Kyle.
Could your car communicate back to your house when you’re 10 miles from home to let it know to adjust the temperature? It sure could, said Kyle. For Tendril, 2012 will likely be a building year, ensuring that everything on its platform works together seamlessly -- which is not as easy as it sounds.
If the pilot home and ActiveE are a success, it could mean more down the road for Tendril and BMW, which is also toying with BMW i electric concept cars.
I have no idea why I would want my car to talk to my home (besides maybe adjusting lighting and HVAC settings), but like the iPhone, if you build it, apps will come. And then I won't be able to live without it. (Full disclosure: this reporter lives in New York City and does not currently own a car.)
Ford already recently unveiled an EV charging app for its all-electric and plug-in hybrids that can find charge stations, monitor at-home charging and offer social media functionality so you can brag to your friends about how much gas you’re not using.
As connectivity becomes ubiquitous in cars, companies will pile into the market to show just how cool that connectivity will be.