A big tech change will happen next year.
The Texas blackouts caused by the severe winter storm caused havoc for millions of residents earlier this year. But never let a crisis go to waste, as the old saying goes. New Ford F-150 owners realized their trucks' Power Boost generator could serve as a temporary solution to get some electricity running inside their homes. The automaker even asked Texas Ford dealerships to lend out F-150s with this onboard generator to those in desperate situations. If a combustion-engined truck with a generator can help save the day, a pure battery-electric can do the same, right? Absolutely.
Think of EVs as portable power banks on wheels, but they require one critical feature to distribute that power elsewhere: bidirectional charging. According to Germany's Handelsblatt, Volkswagen plans to enable this feature on all MEB-based models, such as the ID.4, beginning next year.
Most new EVs, including the ID.4, have a minimum driving range of around 250 miles. More expensive ones, like the Tesla Model S Plaid, can exceed 500 miles on a single charge. Because of lockdowns and work from home policies, we're all driving less these days and all indicators point this new lifestyle (or some hybrid form) is here to stay.
That means EVs could have more extra power available for a variety of situations. Bidirectional charging can work in a few ways. The most common method is called "vehicle-to-grid," or V2G, meaning one can return the car's stored energy back into the electricity grid. Why would owners want to do this even in non-emergencies? Because they can make money.
Power companies could potentially pay users to return unused energy, and there could be greater incentives to do so during peak hours. Owners usually recharge their vehicles during non-peak hours, like in the middle of the night. Other types of bidirectional charging include vehicle-to-home, vehicle-to-building, and vehicle-to-load.
Somewhat astonishingly, only a few EVs are currently equipped with bidirectional charging, specifically the Nissan Leaf and Tesla's lineup. The upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 5 will have it as well. VW has confirmed it's now in the final testing phase for the tech, and other Group brands like Audi and Porsche will get the feature too.