Volkswagen has confirmed that it will switch all of its MEB-based electric vehicles to support bidirectional charging starting next year.
It could give a big boost to vehicle-to-grid technologies.
During the early days of the electric vehicle revolution, the industry was cautious about the use of battery packs as longevity was a big question.
But now the industry as a whole is getting more confident that well-managed battery packs can last a long time, some see them as underused assets.
Some EVs have big battery packs enabling 200+ miles of range, but they travel fewer than 40 miles more days.
As the fleet of electric vehicles grows in some markets, controlling when electric vehicles can charge on the local electric grid has great value for balancing the load and avoiding running expensive and polluting peaker power plants.
If those electric vehicles could also put power that they don’t need back into the grid, that would have even greater value.
The technology is often referred to as “vehicle-to-grid.”
An electric vehicle with bidirectional charging capacity can send power pack into the grid, or a home, or even another electric vehicle.
Some companies and electric utilities have been exploring the idea of using a fleet of electric vehicles equipped with bidirectional charging to help balance the grid when needed.
With big enough fleets, it could provide very valuable grid services by taking back some power from thousands of vehicles that don’t need it. In return, those EV owners would get compensated by the electric utility for the use of their battery pack.
The problem has been that there are only a limited number of electric vehicles equipped with bidirectional charging capability.
The Nissan Leaf is the most popular EV with the capacity, but that’s about it.
However, there are many new EVs coming with the capacity. The new Hyundai Ioniq 5 is equipped with the technology, and Tesla has commented that all future vehicles will be equipped with bidirectional charging capacity.
Now Volkswagen is adding its name to the list.
VW going with bidirectional charging
We knew that the automaker had been working on the technology since they unveiled a wall charger with bidirectional charging capacity last year, but they didn’t say when the capacity would come to the vehicles.
Now the German group has confirmed that every new VW EV based on the MEB platform is going to be equipped with bidirectional charging capacity starting next year (via Handelsblatt):
“The test vehicles are running, we are in the last pulls with the preparations,” confirms VW Development Board Member Thomas Ulbrich in an interview with the Handelsblatt. From 2022 onwards, every electric car from the Volkswagen Group that is developed on the basis of the MEB (“modular electrification kit”) electrical platform can not only charge the electricity but also return it to the grid. In addition to VW, the MEB is also used by the sister brands Audi , Skoda and Seat-Cupra.
The automaker could produce as many as 300,000 vehicles with the capacity next year.
It would result in big enough EV fleets with the capacity to have big impacts on the electric grid.
Volkswagen plans to be involved in the process to make sure it benefits everyone involved, including the electric vehicle owner.
Furthermore, bidirectional charging also offers other advantages, like the potential to provide backup power to your home when needed.
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