Tesla: what could two-way charging be for? – Numerama

Tesla may soon implement two-way charging in its electric cars. They could become sources of energy.

In the smartphone market, reverse charging has become a common feature. It is used to recharge another device – headphones for example – by drawing on the battery of its phone. This principle can of course be applied to anything that has a battery, such as a car. And according to information published by Electrek on May 19, Tesla may well offer this technology in its products.

For vehicles, we talk about bidirectional charging with a conversion of the current in one direction as in the other according to the need for energy (direct current for the car, alternating current for the electric network). While disassembling for a competitor, an engineer discovered that the Tesla Model 3 is ready for two-way charging.

Tesla what could two way charging be for Numerama - Tesla: what could two-way charging be for? - Numerama
An advertisement for Tesla Model 3 // Source: Tesla

Tesla soon to be transformed into batteries?

According to Marco Gaxiola, the charger installed in the Model 3 would be able to return current to the port to which it is connected. He said the on-board technology, which would not require an external converter, would likely work worldwide. It would only take a simple update to activate it – as is often the case with Tesla.

Two-way charging is far from being an ordinary feature: it allows electric cars to make available the energy on board in their battery to power the mainstream electricity network. For example, you could leave your Tesla in the parking lot of a station, which would then rely on the battery of the unused car to operate (when the car is parked, the stored energy is useless). This can help better regulate a city’s energy use, with peaks being managed more efficiently (the car recharges when they are low and then serves as food when demand is high). This principle is called V2G – or Vehicle to Grid.

The interest could be economic: by supplying energy to public buildings, the owner of an electric car could earn a little money (the manufacturer also). On this point, Tesla has often explained that its vehicles will eventually become sources of income. Two-way charging is part of this route, in addition to being made available as part of a car-sharing service with autonomous driving.

In a 100% private domain, there is V2H – or Vehicle to Home. It’s the same as V2G, except that this time the car powers a house. In the event of a power failure, it can become a source of emergency. Even better, this feature can help save money: the battery fills up during off-peak hours (when electricity is cheaper) and the house draws in during peak hours. Some could even become self-sufficient: we recharge the car with renewable energies during the day (solar panels for example) and we use the energy stored at night to power our house.

Note that Nissan has been talking about two-way charging for several years (example: this video dates from May 2016). Tesla has long been resistant to the idea, due to uncertainties related to battery degradation. But in a tweet posted on July 5, 2018, Elon Musk said there may be an interest in (re) addressing the issue.

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