South Korean brands Hyundai and Kia recently announced plans to offer their new dedicated EVs with bidirectional charging. Riding on the E-GMP platform, both the Ioniq 5 and EV6 will be able to power external devices, much like the GMC Hummer has a Power Station Generator to juice up another vehicle or a home.
The Nissan Leaf has had this feature for years and Mercedes will offer the technology for the EQS sedan in Japan. The Volkswagen Group announced this week it will implement bidirectional charging in its bespoke electric vehicles from 2022. VW Development Board Member Thomas Ulbrich told Handelsblatt the MEB-based EVs will receive the tech starting next year. Meanwhile, the company is currently testing the system and is putting the finishing touches before it’s rolled out on VW, Skoda, SEAT, and Audi models.
It’s important to mention the already built MEB-based EVs are not compatible with bidirectional charging out of the box, but Thomas Ulbrich mentions these can be retrofitted by making few hardware changes and installing new software. The German automotive conglomerate estimates it will be able to assemble 300,000 EVs with bidirectional charging in 2022 at the Zwicaku factory alone.
While bidirectional charging might seem like a gimmick at first, it could prove to be useful to charge another EV or to send energy back to the grid and power your house. In the case of electric pickups and trucks used as workhorses, the feature could be a valuable source of energy in a remote area with limited access to electricity.
Expect more and more EVs to be developed with bidirectional charging in the following years, especially new models engineered from the ground up as electric cars. We’re talking about dedicated EVs, but also the more advanced hybrids such as Ford’s new F-150 as it too can power external devices.