Last week the power went out in my neighbourhood. There was no storm or weather chaos, just suddenly my home went dark, leaving me in a precarious position.
I needed to get my daughter to school but her uniform was still damp from washing the night before. With no time to waste I was left with one obvious option – my car.
Thankfully for me (but maybe not my daughter, who probably would have loved a free day off school), I was reviewing a Genesis GV60 last week. Why was that good? Because it’s one of the few current electric vehicles on the market today that offer bi-directional charging – otherwise known as vehicle-to-load (V2L).
Because of this I simply picked up my clothes dryer, carried it out to the driveway and plugged it into the GV60, drawing electricity from the car’s battery. In no time it had the uniform dry and with only two per cent of the battery used I was able to get my daughter to school only slightly late.
While the concept of V2L wasn’t new to me, getting some genuinely useful first-hand experience with it only increased my interest in this new electric automotive world we are racing towards. Car companies like Hyundai (Genesis’ parent company), Ford and Nissan have been talking up the benefits of bi-directional charging for years, so to get a sample of its benefits brings into focus the potential it offers.
But using my clothes dryer is only scratching the surface of what V2L, and vehicle-to-home (V2H), can offer.
In the USA, where power outages are more common, Ford has used the fact the F-150 Lightning has V2L and V2H as a major selling point, claiming that the pick-up has enough energy to power a home for up to four days.
A blackout is a rare event for most Australians, so while it’s nice having a handy back-up power source, the real key appeal for EV owners is the potential to use your car as a battery. For example, the GV60 (like most EVs) offers scheduling charging, so you can set up the system to only begin drawing energy from the grid when it hits off-peak rates overnight.
In theory, V2H allows you to push electricity from your car’s battery into the grid during peak hours to help ease pressure on the grid. As the electric vehicle car park grows in Australia this could turn into a major opportunity for car owners and electricity providers to work together for mutual benefit.
The potential for fleets in this department is huge, in theory sending any unused energy from dozens (or hundreds) of EVs back into the grid to earn money and then recharging at a cheaper off-peak rate.
This is only part of the story of EVs too, with more benefits becoming apparent as governments around the country finally begin to incentivise electric cars after years of hesitation.
As of May 2022, when the Western Australian state government announced a $60 million package of EV incentives, every state has some form of motivation or reward for buying an electric car.
Crucially, in August, the federal Labor government announced a National Electric Vehicle Strategy that will study ways to get more clean cars on our road.
But at a more practical level (like having your clothes dryer in your driveway) there are some direct cash benefits for EV buyers at the moment. The federal government has announced plans in its 2022/23 budget to remove Fringe Benefits Tax and five per cent import tariffs from EVs that are underneath the luxury car tax.
In New South Wales, the state government is offering an immediate $3000 rebate to the first 25,000 EVs purchased for less than $68,750, and stamp duty is removed for EVs under $78,000.
In Victoria there’s a $3000 rebate for EVs sold for less than $68,740 as well as reduced stamp duty; but this is offset by the introduction of a mileage tax for EVs of 2.5c/km.
Queensland also offers the $3000 rebate on EVs up to $58,000, but only for the first 15,000 models sold starting from July 1. There’s also cheaper registration and stamp duty rates for electric vehicles.
The South Australian government initially announced plans for an ‘EV road user tax’ but backflipped and instead is offering a $3000 rebate for the first 7000 electric cars sold in the state. It will also offer three years of free registration too.
Despite all this, electric vehicles will remain a small part of the Australian new car market for some time, with battery-powered vehicles likely to make up less than three per cent of all cars sold in 2022.
But those numbers will grow and as they do more and more people will realise, like I have, that there are more advantages to driving an electric car than any potential environmental benefits. From more money in your pocket to a back-up plan when the power goes out, there is more to this new wave of electric vehicles than you think.