Tesla’s first generation Roadster had the capacity to output power from the battery pack to something other than its electric motor. The technology is often called vehicle-to-grid or vehicle-to-home and it enables electric car owners to power their home with their electric vehicle battery pack.
The automaker has since dropped the technology for its more mass-market vehicles, but it is making a comeback with other automakers and now Tesla is considering bringing it back too, says Elon Musk.
The advent of electric vehicles is expected to increase the demand for electricity, but EVs also offer some advantages by controlling the power load.
A recent study showed that electric vehicle fleets could save billions of dollars with controllable load and vehicle-to-grid features and it would enable the grid to take better advantage of renewable energy.
Controllable load, the ability to control when an EV is charging, is possible with any electric vehicle as long as it is connected to a smart charging station.
On its own, it can have a massive impact on the grid by reducing peak demand and charging only when demand is lower, but the study shows that vehicle-to-grid technology, which also enables a vehicle to send power back into the grid with a bi-directional charger, would have an even greater impact.
Nissan has been testing different vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems with the Leaf for years now. With the launch of the next generation Leaf, Nissan has unveiled a new EV ecosystem, including a scheme to offer free power to owners with a V2G system.
All of Nissan’s next-gen Leafs are capable of V2G.
But Tesla is now emerging as the largest electric vehicle manufacturer and it already has the biggest EV fleet in term of overall energy capacity.
The company has the potential for the greatest impact in term of both controllable load and V2G, but it appears to have cold feet about the latter as it focuses on its stationary battery system for home energy storage.
In a tweet last night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he was open to revisiting using the technology in Tesla vehicles:
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
It’s not the first time that Tesla has talked about bringing back V2G in its vehicles.
We previously reported that Tesla has been flirting with the idea of Vehicle-to-Grid with a bi-directional home charging station for a while now. However, during Tesla’s 2016 Shareholders Meeting and the Gigafactory opening, Musk and Tesla CTO JB Straubel threw some cold water on the idea saying that it is not a priority.
Later Ben Hill, head of Tesla Energy for EMEA at the time, hinted at some pilot Vehicle-to-Grid projects during a presentation at the Inter Solar Middle East conference in Dubai. He said:
“There is a lot of pilots [programmes] going around the world right now, the ability… [for] battery systems, which are connected to the grid, whether there[sic] in a vehicle or not, that ability is coming very, very soon.”
Almost 2 years later, it still hasn’t materialized, but it looks like Musk is now considering it again.
Do you think Tesla should bring back the feature?
Regardless of V2G, Tesla seems more interested in controllable load and its value as its customer fleet grows. Here’s a slide from a presentation given by Tesla CTO JB Straubel back in 2015:
I can get why Tesla hasn’t made this a priority. Vehicle-to-grid is a very attractive additional feature to have on an electric vehicle, but it has some drawbacks.
For example, if someone is actually looking for a permanent home energy storage solution, it’s just not it. You can’t count on your car being available with enough energy capacity to serve as home energy storage all the time.
There’s also the problem of battery degradation if you are putting your vehicle through different cycles for your home and for driving. It can accelerate battery degradation.
Therefore, you are often better off with an actual home battery pack system if you want energy storage at your home.
That said, it is still a nice feature to have for backup power in case of an emergency. The average Tesla battery pack can keep the power on in an average household for several days, which is often a lot more than a home battery pack can offer.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.