Niche carmaker Lotus has inked a deal with Centrica in a bid to develop electric vehicle and smart energy technology, including using the cars to balance the grid.
The announcement comes as the Norwich-based manufacturer preps its first EV, the Evija, set to launch later in 2020.
Owned by Malaysia’s Proton Group, Lotus Cars sells the bulk of its production outside Britain. Data site Statista, suggests UK sales in 2019 were fewer than 250 units.
According to Centrica, the two will work on:
- a dedicated EV strategy for Lotus
- charging infrastructure for the carmaker’s customers and global distribution network
- creating a smart ‘digital mobility’ platform
As part of the agreement, Centrica is also tasked with helping the manufacturer decarbonise its worldwide operations.
It looks like vehicle-to-grid in part of the plan. Per the press release, the aim is to make “the car an extension of the home, capable of storing electricity, minimising emissions and generating new income by providing services to the energy market.”
“We see a future where the customer, car and home are connected, enabling new services beyond charging the car, and new products and experiences replacing the unremarkable standard relationship with energy and the ownership of a car today,” suggested Centrica Innovations’ Carl Bayliss. “Lotus is the perfect partner as we embark on this.”
Centrica is backing smart technologies and services to revive its fortunes.
In former CEO Iain Conn’s words, the group aims reverse account cannibalisation by “shifting the centre of gravity of our relationships away from commoditised energy supply, and towards a suite of differentiated propositions, which many will value.”
As energy and transport converge, volume carmakers without development links to at least one energy company are starting to become the exception, not the rule.
BMW plans to pilot V2G with network operator Tennet next year, and Volkswagen seeks to control 350GWh of battery storage by 2025. It has also launched its own energy company. EDF has struck deals with PSA Group and Nissan, while Honda has launched its own energy management arm.
Tesla, meanwhile, has just applied for a UK power generation licence as it bids to create a virtual power plant from flexible energy assets, which may ultimately include vehicles.