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Volkswagen plans to bring bidirectional charging to the masses

Your future car can also power your home

If you're not using your Volkswagen EV, it can light up your home. PHOTO FROM VOLKSWAGEN

When Volkswagen isn’t pulling silly publicity stunts, the firm is actually hard at work creating some pretty nice electric vehicles fit for the future. Aside from modern designs, engineers are also packing plenty of new technology into the ID range of cars, and one additional piece of tech will soon find its way into all mass-market models from Wolfsburg: bidirectional charging. This feature not only allows a car to be charged, but the vehicle can also discharge power from its battery pack—usually back into the grid where this procedure is referred to as vehicle-to-grid (V2G).

It may seem like an odd idea to send power back to the grid, thereby reducing the charge level and the range of the car. But there is a lot of method in this apparent madness. First, cars fitted with V2G can be used to actually power your home, if needed, through a special wall box. Around our shores, this might come in handy during brownouts, but VW could basically offer a whole range of battery-powered home-energy systems. One of them could be a setup that uses solar power to charge the car, and the car then powers the house in return. One full charge is apparently enough to run an average household for a week.

A large number of EVs plugged in can actually stabilize a city's electric grid. PHOTO FROM VOLKSWAGEN

And then there is a wider use for V2G setups, and it has to do with balancing the power grid of a city or even a country. In the future, we will likely live in a world where millions of EVs are plugged in at home. Power companies could make use of this to balance the loads across their networks. For example, during periods of high demand—when everyone is cooking dinner or watching TV in the evening—electricity suppliers could take back some of the unused charge in all the plugged-in cars to allow them to stabilize supplies. Later at night, when everyone is asleep and demand is low, power is sent back into the vehicles. Car owners could even get compensated for allowing their EVs to be used in this process, which ultimately reduces running costs.

Bidirectional charging isn’t completely new with the Nissan Leaf sporting it for quite some time now. But mass-market adoption hasn’t happened until now. Next to VW, Hyundai is also sticking it into its new Ioniq 5, and US firm Tesla is on record as saying that all future models will come with it. Not only is the way we drive going to change then, but also the way we refuel and use electricity in general. Volkswagen is currently in the final stages of testing, and all cars built on the MEB platform will feature two-way charging from next year onward. This means that our pride and joy will not only get us from point A to point B, but it can also light up our home and might even earn us some money just by sitting in the driveway. The electric prospect of the automobile sure looks more interesting with that.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring.