The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is fast becoming a beloved electric car thanks to distinctive design and, obviously, because it’s an EV hatchback. Face it, hatchbacks rule. And the critically acclaimed hatch is gaining a new skill, now that Hyundai is experimenting with bidirectional charging and Vehicle-to-Grid solutions in the Dutch city of Utrecht.
Contrary to what the picture suggests, the Ioniq 5 will not run Windows 10 but it will turn into a public power plant when V2G yields decentralized energy.
Hyundai and We Drive Solar have rolled out a fleet of 25 Ioniq 5 models with V2G tech in the Netherlands. The fleet is made up of lightly modified Ioniq 5s which will store energy from renewable sources, and feed that clean energy back to the grid during peak usage hours. The idea behind V2G is that when EVs are not driving, or otherwise moving, they’re basically free electron real estate.
For a long time, V2G, or whatever gimmicky names Hyundai uses, like Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) and Vehicle-to-Building (V2B,) left me very confused. I was under the impression that people charge their cars in order to drive them rather than use them as electricity silos. But when EVs become more and more common, the variability in their use can make for viable ecosystems of energy.
One of the biggest issues with renewable energy sources like solar and wind is currently storage, or where to put the clean energy when generated but not immediately needed. What better place to store it than the millions of EV batteries that carmakers swear are coming in the next few decades? All of these batteries can be used as buffers in a bidirectional ecosystem, as Hyundai says.
Of course, Hyundai is neither the only, nor the first carmaker to use V2G. Nissan, Honda, GM and Ford have been talking about it for a long time. Some longer than others, as the Honda Accord Plug-In shows. Ditto the Nissan Leaf, which has helped power Nissan HQ and design centers in the U.S. since 2018.
GM says that current and new EVs like the Chevy Bolt or the Silverado EV will help power California’s grid in the immediate future. And Ford has been touting the F-150 Lightning’s bidirectional charging since the EV truck was announced.
The problem with EVs and V2G in the past was that there weren’t enough cars to really make a dent in public power grids or provide significant storage for renewables, but that could change. A handful of EVs storing and sharing clean power was never going to solve the problem, but millions of them just might.