Volvo launches new business unit to promote bidirectional charging

EVs are not only emission-free ways of getting around town but also potential energy reservoirs sitting right in your garage, capable of powering up homes and appliances or giving back to the energy grid – at least, that is the dream for the bidirectional charging dreamers among us. And Volvo is looking to tap into that potential in a bigger way.

Today, the automaker announced the launch of a new business unit dubbed Volvo Cars Energy Solutions, which aims to develop and promote energy storage and charging-related technologies like bidirectional charging in all its forms, including vehicle-to-home, vehicle-to-grid, and vehicle-to-load.

Bidirectional is very in at the moment, with automakers including Volkswagen, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan, and even Tesla (an early naysayer of the tech, for a host of reasons) all experimenting with the capability. Developing this technology, which allows EVs to contribute surplus battery power back to a compatible gird, will be a key focus of Volvo’s new business unit, with an eye on creating hardware and software that will facilitate this. Volvo’s EX90 SUV will be among the first of its lineup to be outfitted with bidirectional charging capabilities and solar energy storage.

Volvo is also launching a vehicle-to-grid pilot program to test technology on the local energy grid in real-case scenarios in Gothenburg, Sweden, where the company has its headquarters. Teaming up with Gothenburg local grid company Göteborg Energi Nät AB, the pilot will use a low-cost AC wall box installed in customers’ home, where their EVs can feed back into the local grid. While DC chargers would presumably get more bang for your buck, the pilot project is opting for the AC wall units in hopes of widespread adoption of a more affordable, accessible technology.

“With bi-directional charging, you can use your car battery as an extra energy supply, for example to provide power to your home, other electric devices or another electric Volvo car,” said Alexander Petrofski, the new head of Volvo Cars Energy Solutions. “The next step would be to enable this feature all around Sweden, and hopefully that will pave the way for even broader acceptance of similar charging and energy storage services around Europe.”

The new unit will also work toward better battery capacity. As Volvo moves toward becoming an all-electric brand by 2030, it expects its fleet’s total battery capacity to hit about 50 GWh by 2025. With data showing that daily drives in Europe typically consume less than 20kWh, this offers plenty of surplus battery capacity on offer for bidirectional charging.

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