Volkswagen is to launch an energy company. The firm, which recently committed to invest €30bn in electric vehicles over the next five years, will supply clean power as well as smart chargers and plans to provide grid balancing services.
The new company will be called Elli, which stands for Electric Life. The world’s largest carmaker said energy supply was “strategically relevant”. It wants to make clean, smart energy and transport a way of life.
“Volkswagen is going to force the pace of the urgently needed transport and energy transition to emission-neutral e-mobility,” said Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen Board Member responsible for E-Mobility.
Elli’s chief executive, Thorsten Nicklaß, said the company would offer renewable power to customers outside the group – i.e. not just VW car owners, but everyone.
“Our mission is to take e-mobility out of its niche and to place it firmly in the mainstream,” said Nicklaß. “Elli stands for electric life, because we intend to enable a lifestyle that fully integrates the electric car in people’s everyday lives. This approach could be compared with the use of a mobile phone, which is taken for granted nowadays.”
The firm will initially target business to business markets as well as domestic sectors, offering bi-directional chargers that enable vehicle to grid services.
The company plans to offer other energy services, and adjacent infrastructure, such as battery storage solutions.
It also aims to boost open access public charging infrastructure and ease payment.
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Elli currently has three offices in Germany. The Energyst has asked the company for comment on its UK plans, and whether it will apply for an energy supply licence.
Volkswagen’s move may also interest those companies aiming to sell their domestic energy supply businesses.
Volkswagen is not the only carmaker eyeing power supply.
Nissan last month told The Energyst that it is considering whether to become an energy company, and plans to launch its own bi-directional chargers in spring as part of a major vehicle to grid services push.
Eduardo Mascarell, head of energy aggregation and vehicle to grid at Nissan Europe, said 2019 could be “a breakthrough year” for grid services via electric vehicles.
Mascarell suggested that by allowing car companies to control smart charging and deliver grid balancing services, car owners could conceivably receive free charging in return – i.e. never pay to charge their car.