Tesla could soon revisit the idea of using its electric cars as a battery power source, likely as part of the company’s Vehicle-To-Grid (V2G) bi-directional solutions.
Musk’s update came as a response to a Twitter request from Cody Walker, a Tesla enthusiast, who inquired if the electric car maker would eventually introduce a feature where one car can provide battery power to another vehicle. Responding to the inquiry, Musk noted that previous Tesla vehicles had the capability to use its battery for outputting power.
Very early on, we had the ability to use the car as a battery outputting power. Maybe worth revisiting that.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 4, 2018
The Vehicle-To-Grid concept involves the use of electric car batteries to provide electricity back to the grid. The V2G model uses excess capacity from an electric car’s battery capacity to provide power to the electric grid in response to peak load demands. Such a system could result in several benefits, including lower power bills for homes adopting V2G.
The idea of using electric cars as a battery power source has been suggested in the past, particularly during the time of the SolarCity acquisition. For one, Ben Hill, Tesla’s vice president for energy in Europe and Africa back in 2016, mentioned that vehicle-to-grid systems would be introduced and be functional “very, very soon.” Speaking to at the 2016 Intersolar Conference at Dubai World Trade Centre, Hill noted that V2G technology is quite promising, though it still needs some fine-tuning.
“There is a lot of pilots programs going around the world right now. The ability for battery systems, which are connected to the grid, whether there in a vehicle or not, that ability is coming very, very soon,” he said.
Even teardown specialists critical of Tesla’s vehicles like the Model 3, such as Detroit veteran Sandy Munro, for example, have lauded Tesla’s progress in its battery technology. With this in mind, and with Elon Musk’s recent mention of a $100/kW breakthrough for battery cells in the near future, the time could very well be ripe for the electric car maker to revisit V2G solutions. Tesla’s battery packs, if any, are large enough for the task, considering that an average US household consumes roughly 30 kWh of electricity per day, and Tesla’s smallest battery pack in its vehicles stores 75 kWh of energy.
Vehicle-To-Grid bi-directional charging solutions have been explored by other carmakers in the past. Back in 2013, Nissan introduced a 6 kW bi-directional “LEAF-To-Home” system in Japan, which uses the electric car’s batteries to help lower the electricity bills of homes. As a means to demonstrate the potential of the technology, Nissan introduced the “Vehicle-To-Building” concept, which involved connecting six LEAFs to a building’s power distribution board, saving on power costs during peak hours. The potential savings of Nissan’s system was only around $5,000 per year for the Vehicle-To-Building model, but it was nonetheless a demonstration of how the technology could work.
The introduction of V2G solutions for Tesla vehicles might be coming at the right time for the electric car and energy company. The necessary components for the system, after all, are pretty much in place after Tesla merged with SolarCity. The former, after all, produces battery packs, while the latter provides homes with solar solutions. The companies’ technologies already came together for the Tesla Powerwall and the Solar Roof tiles. Thus, an idea like V2G would be a logical step forward for the company.
There is a certain risk with V2G solutions, however. The technology, after all, could be abused by charging the electric cars at Superchargers (which are free) and using the stored energy for their homes. If Tesla could come up with a way to prevent this from happening, however, the company could very well have another killer system in its hands.