What Is Bidirectional Charging? Your Questions Answered

What Is Bidirectional Charging? Your Questions Answered

Silverado EV

Imagine using your vehicle as a backup generator for your home, or even to help a stranded motorist reach their destination. Electric vehicles claim just 5% of new vehicle market share in America, however record gas prices are spurring renewed interest in the EV lifestyle. One of the most sought-after features of electric vehicles is bidirectional charging. Also known as vehicle-to-load, or V2L, tomorrow’s cars literally have the power to do so much more than drive us around. Here’s everything you need to know about bidirectional charging in electric vehicles.

V2G, V2L & V2H: The Types of Bidirectional Charging Capability

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning bidirectional charging
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

During typical use, electric cars draw electricity from the grid, and then consume that energy to power their electric motors. What if you could reverse the flow of electricity back into the grid? Better yet, imagine making money doing it. The future of mobility is about to get weird. Cars are already becoming rolling computers, so it only makes sense that they are capable of revolutionizing the world beyond the driver’s seat.

What is bidirectional charging?

Simply put, bidirectional charging is the ability for electrical current to flow in both directions: from the grid to the vehicle (to charge the battery pack), and also from the car to the grid, another car, or household appliances. 

How does bidirectional charging work?

When an electric vehicle is charged, alternating current (AC) from the grid is converted to direct current (DC) using the car’s built-in converter. To send electricity out of the battery pack and back into the grid or into another electronic device, electricity must first convert back to AC. This is done using an inverter. Vehicles that are manufactured with an inverter are already equipped with the hardware needed for bidirectional charging.

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Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)

Vehicle to grid (V2G) capability enables an electric car to return electricity to the grid. V2G can help supply energy at times of peak grid demand. In most of the world, electricity demand peaks during the afternoon and early evening. Peak demand causes demand charges, which are higher rates for usage. 

Vehicle to grid capability offers a way around demand charges, to the benefit of consumers and grid operators alike. The vehicle’s owner avoids demand charges or even sells electricity to the grid, and the grid gains a new source of electricity when it’s needed the most.

Although V2G is still in its infancy, the technology opens up the possibility of future revenue streams for everyday EV drivers and even automakers. Imagine if your car could make you money while it’s parked in the garage. Rental and ride-hailing fleets could double the revenue from their autonomous vehicles by serving as power suppliers to the grid. It’s a game changing option that is coming to cars in the near future.

Vehicle-to-Load (V2L)

V2L allows an electric vehicle’s battery pack to power appliances such as power tools, a coffee machine, cooking equipment, laptops, or even a party. More importantly, vehicle-to-load capability serves as the ideal emergency power source during times of need, such as following a natural disaster or power outage. Some cars, such as the 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5, can output 3.6 kilowatts via V2L functionality. That is a LOT of power, surely enough to power an entire campsite or family-sized outdoor event.

Vehicle-to-Home (V2H)

Naturally, one of the first uses of bidirectional charging that comes to mind is powering one’s home during a power outage. Indeed, vehicle-to-home (V2H) power supply is under development, and it’s even featured in a few of today’s production EVs. It’s important to note that accessories and professional installation of associated hardware are required before any EV can power an entire home. Still, it looks like V2H capability is a real option for EV shoppers to consider in 2022. More on today’s V2H EVs below. 

Does Bidirectional Charging Harm the Battery?

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

The short answer is that it depends on the battery chemistry. One of the latest battery chemistry types to be employed in EVs is lithium-iron-phosphate batteries, or LFP. LFP batteries quickly rose to prominence due to their remarkable ability to withstand the stresses of repeated charging cycles without severe battery degradation. 

Other battery chemistries lose range over time as the battery is charged and discharged (referred to as a charging cycle). Even charging to 100% too often can reduce the life of some battery types. LFP batteries are the perfect companion for bidirectional charging, especially vehicle-to-grid. They handle frequent charging and discharging like a champ.

Other battery types in development are engineered with bidirectional charging capability in mind. Ford’s partnership with SK Innovation resulted in a more environmentally-friendly battery chemistry suitable for the frequent charge cycles of bidirectional charging.   

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Which Models Have Bidirectional Charging and V2L?

Max Power OutputDate AvailableV2L Capable?V2H Capable?V2G Capable in 2022?
Chevrolet Silverado EV10.2 kW2023YesYesNo
Ford F-150 Lightning9.6 kWMid 2022YesYesNo
Hyundai IONIQ 53.6 kWNowYesNoNo
Genesis GV603.6 kWSpring 2022YesNoNo
Genesis G803.6 kW2022YesNoNo
Kia EV61.9 kWNowYesNoNo
Toyota bZ4XTBDMid 2022YesNoNo

Does Tesla Have Bidirectional Charging?

Tesla Model S

For the time being, no Tesla models are capable of bidirectional charging. It’s possible (even likely) that all 2022 Tesla models have the necessary hardware for V2G or V2L, or V2H. However, Tesla has alternative motives for delaying bidirectional charging rollout for as long as possible. If Tesla vehicles became V2H-capable, they would render the $10,500 Tesla Powerwall home battery obsolete!

A few curious Tesla owners have inquired about modifying their cars to become capable of bidirectional charging. The response from Tesla was a warning that doing so would void the vehicle’s battery warranty. So for now, don’t expect Tesla EVs to power your home or appliances.

Ford Intelligent Backup Power: F-150 Lightning

F-150 Lightning

Ford’s F-150 Lightning is widely marketed as the answer to power grid anxieties. Ford Intelligent Backup Power is an available accessory to the popular F-150 Lightning electric truck. With 200,000 reservations in the books, the Lightning is already sold out through 2023. 

The F-150 Lightning contains unique battery chemistry that strengthens charging cycle durability while also requiring fewer rare earth metals. Ford’s partner, SK Innovation, has developed a new battery cathode that uses 90% nickel, and 5% each of manganese and cobalt. The new battery chemistry also reduces the harmful environmental and ethical impacts of cobalt mining.

Ford’s engineers designed the new electric F-150 with V2H in mind. In the electric truck segment that’s rapidly gaining steam, automakers are looking for bold ways to make their truck a compelling buy.

“F-150 Lightning with available Ford Intelligent Backup Power can provide power and security during an electrical outage – the first electric truck in the U.S. to offer this capability; in the future, new features will offer additional ways to manage energy use and potentially save on energy costs.”

Ford touts high power output and energy storage capabilities

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum

“The F-150 Lightning extended-range battery system can store 131 kilowatt-hours of energy and deliver up to 9.6 kilowatts of power in a cleaner, quieter, more efficient way versus gasoline-powered generators, and with greater capacity than many wall battery units. F-150 Lightning can also offer lower-cost energy storage in a product customers already own – their truck.”

How long should an electric truck be able to power an entire home? 12 hours? Three days? Ford says that depending on power demand, some homes could be powered for seven days with the F-150 Lightning’s extended range battery.

“With Ford Intelligent Backup Power and the Home Integration System, F-150 Lightning automatically kicks in to power your home if the grid goes down. Once power is restored, the system automatically reverts back to utility power. Based on an average U.S. home at 30 kilowatt-hours of use per day, F-150 Lightning with extended-range battery provides full home power for up to three days, or as long as 10 days when used in conjunction with solar power or rationing.”

Learn more about Ford Intelligent Backup Power in Ford’s official announcement

The average

CarEdge’s Take

Kia EV6 bidirectional charging
2022 Kia EV6

Bidirectional charging is yet another way that the electrification of the auto industry is transforming vehicle ownership. In five years (or less), trucks will be judged for how many days they can power your home, and crossovers will be expected to power household appliances with ease.

The fact that vehicle-to-home capability relies on the professional installation of accessories sold separately seems to fly under the radar for many. While vehicle-to-load may become a standard feature that we all take for granted in a decade’s time, retrofitting a home for V2H power will remain a lofty expense for the foreseeable future.

What do you think about bidirectional charging? Do you plan to power your home with your car in the future? Let us know what you think about automaker’s bold plans for EVs in the comments below, or share your thoughts with the CarEdge Community at caredge.kinsta.cloud.

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Is This the Beginning of the End For Dealerships? GM, Ford and Now Hyundai Issue Stark Warnings to Dealers

Is This the Beginning of the End For Dealerships? GM, Ford and Now Hyundai Issue Stark Warnings to Dealers

The ongoing chip shortage has tightened new vehicles supply to the extent that many dealers are adding enormous markups to their inventory. CarEdge previously reported that both General Motors and Ford have sent sternly-worded memos to their dealerships warning against the anti-consumer practices that automakers are hearing about from frustrated car buyers. Now, Hyundai and Genesis are getting serious about dealers tarnishing their brands with outrageous markups.

Automotive News reports that North American branches of Hyundai and Genesis are fed up with overly aggressive pricing strategies. The letter obtained by Automotive News warns U.S. dealers against damaging the brand’s reputation with markups that mislead buyers and balloon transaction prices.

While Hyundai Motor Group acknowledges that the MSRP is just that, the suggested retail price, they have tools they are not afraid to use if U.S. dealers don’t change their pricing practices. The letter reportedly floats reductions in future allocations, advertising benefits and the loss of other incentives as possible repercussions.

The letter to American Hyundai dealers specifically calls out the trickery of advertising one price online, and then surprising customers with a higher price once it’s time to start paperwork. 

A Win For Consumers

Charging IONIQ 5
2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5

Sales executives from the North American divisions of Hyundai and Genesis noted that angry consumers brought this to their attention.

“We are writing now because with great regularity our customers around the country are voicing displeasure with certain pricing practices which, if left unchecked, will have a negative impact on the health of our brand,” the executives said in the letter.

Finding a new vehicle at MSRP is a challenge no matter what brand you’re in the market for, however Hyundai has seen some of the most outrageous dealership markups of all. One buyer in Massachusetts had worked out a deal over the phone for a new, all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5. The salesperson he worked with committed to selling the EV at MSRP. The customer then drove three hours to the dealership, only to be met by a different sales manager who demanded a $5,000 markup for the same car. 

Fortunately, this customer was able to find a better deal elsewhere, but many first-time Hyundai customers are not willing to give the brand second chances. Kia and Hyundai markups are among the largest in 2022, according to Edmunds. Hyundai transaction prices average $1,498 above sticker price; and for Genesis it was $1,603 higher. Hyundai markups are among the largest out there, and corporate leadership knows that is a bad look for the brand.

It’s refreshing to see an automaker playing the long game with customer relations. The letter warns dealers that once inventory stabilizes, customers will remember how they were treated.

“Once supply and demand come into greater equilibrium, customers will feel that they were overcharged for their vehicle and thus look to other brands the next time they are shopping. We believe that the risk of losing customers and potential future customers far overweighs any short-term gains to be had from what customers describe as unfair pricing.”

Not the First Dealer Warning, Likely Not the Last

Ford F-150 Lightning
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning dealer markups got the attention of Ford

Hyundai and Genesis aren’t the first automakers to threaten their dealers with strongly worded memos. Earlier this year, GM and Ford dealers received letters from their leadership telling them to treat customers more fairly and equitably. The industry-wide push to electric vehicles brings higher production costs and lower margins, so higher prices may become the norm. Still, consumers expect a fair deal, and the automaker’s MSRP typically sets expectations.

Could these warnings be signs of dealer’s weakening grip on car sales in America? It’s a real possibility. You know which automaker actually increased sales in 2021? Tesla, the brand that dares to go without the dealership model. Rivian, Lucid and Fisker are promising to follow Tesla’s lead into the direct-to-consumer sales model. 

If dealers won’t respect consumers or automaker guidance, automakers will be thinking a lot harder about alternative sales avenues that benefit consumers and their brands alike. When there’s an inefficiency as big as this, the free market tends to find a solution rather quickly. We’ll be following the developing situation closely.

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