Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)

Will your lights be on when the power goes out?

The first V2G demonstrations were almost a decade ago. Where are we now?
To help you understand our approach and where the market is heading, we’ve outlined our process below.

Step 1

Learn about the problem.

EV adoption is forecast to skyrocket. The combined capacity of all those batteries represents a large energy storage resource. And yet, V2G hasn’t been scaled commercially because of a few persistent barriers. Here’s what our market research found.

To enable home power backup or grid services, an electric vehicle needs to allow for reverse power flow from the battery. The Nissan LEAF® is one of the only vehicle models in the U.S. that has a warranty which allows for reverse power flow. Battery technology is improving, but most auto OEMs still cite battery and power systems degradation from increased charge/discharge cycles as the primary reason for not allowing this functionality. Many OEMs like BMW, Audi, VW and others have performed demonstration projects and the 2021 Lucid Air has announced it will have bi-directional capability. But to our knowledge, no large-scale commitments from other auto majors have been announced. With less than 150,000 LEAFs on the road in the U.S. today, the total available market for V2G in the U.S. is relatively small, which has slowed commercialization.

The residential bi-directional chargers that are becoming available commercially have a variety of advanced features designed to help you realize savings and generate revenue with your system. For instance, in many areas, consumers are awaiting access to the advanced markets which enable using your EV battery for residential TOU arbitrage (use your battery to power your home when utility rates are high) and also selling into capacity or ancillary services markets when needed (making money by selling the energy stored in your battery). However, these opportunities that employ the full value stack (consumer + grid benefits) are not currently available in most of the U.S. This means the current price tag of $6000-$8000 for a V2G system doesn’t yet appeal to many customers from a cost / benefit perspective.

There aren’t many markets where regulation has enabled the full value stack for V2G. Many regions are making good progress on interconnection and market access for BTM storage resources, but similar V2G legislation is lagging behind. Additionally, the Nissan LEAF uses a CHAdeMO connector type and communications standard. Nearly all other major EV OEMs use the CCS connector type and standards (excluding Tesla). The CCS bi-directional standard is scheduled to be released in 2021 but has been delayed. Residential V2G is not likely to scale until bi-directional standards are enabled on CCS vehicles.

Step 2

Talk to customers.

97 percent of customers responding to our Facebook surveys said they were interested or very interested in V2G technology. With increased frequency and duration of outages due to wildfires, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events, generator and battery storage sales on are the rise and EV owners are looking for solutions. Over 20 hours of in-depth follow-up interviews unveiled these findings:
  • Home power backup for outages lasting 4 hours or more was the primary value proposition.
  • Customers with solar wanted solar integration.
  • Saving money on utility bills was important to less than half of respondents.
  • Current battery storage systems are too expensive and low capacity.
  • EV owners don’t want fossil fuel generators for backup power.
  • EV owners were generally happy with their existing home chargers.

Step 3

Define the MVP (minimum viable product).

We heard from customers that most weren’t interested in the whole V2G value stack—most didn’t even have TOU rates available from their utility. What they wanted was energy security during an outage, delivered through a clean, affordable home backup power system that works with their solar system.

If our MVP is home power backup, persistent barriers come down. Battery degradation isn’t an issue because it may only be used a couple times a year. Regulatory and market barriers don’t exist either because the value proposition isn’t dependent on TOU rate structures or access to wholesale markets.

In this case, the main barrier that remains is cost. Why are typical residential V2G systems so expensive?

A typical bi-directional EV charger has the following components:

  • A level 2 AC charger (similar to what you might buy off the shelf for current home charging; msrp $200—$600).
  • A DC/AC inverter (similar to what you might buy for your solar PV system; msrp $800—$2000).
  • A V2G controller box to talk to the car, the EV charger, and the inverter.
How would the consumer want us to package our solution? Should we offer the entire package, including an EV charger and an inverter, or just the controller?

We talked to more customers and to solar installers about an MVP design that was just a V2G controller—a bi-directional charger with no charger! Surprisingly, we learned that a “minimally featured” product had some advantages: 

  • Current EV owners didn’t need a new EV charger.  They were happy with a new product that allowed them to discharge their vehicle “as long as it works with my existing EV charger and solar system and especially if it comes at a lower cost."
  • • Solar installers said installation conditions vary widely.  Some customers are first time buyers, some have solar, some a generator, some an EV, some battery storage, some homes are new, some homes are old—and all of them are wired differently. Selling a component (the controller) rather than a system (a bi-directional charger) gives consumers flexibility and reduces overall system cost.

Step 4

Size the market.

Customers and solar installers both say the MVP will suit their needs. We talked to some customers who would buy our product, but how many others are there?

We know that the total market today is 150,000 units at the most, as that is the number of bi-directional capable vehicles on the road. The future total market is much bigger and will grow rapidly, but the timing of that market shift is dependent on both the CCS standards process and auto OEM warranties.

For today, we need to establish how many bi-directional capable EV owners want backup power—and at what cost.

The overlap between bi-directional capable EV owners and those that want backup power varies by geography. For instance, many of the Nissan LEAFs registered in California are located in counties affected by the Public Safety Power Shutoffs last summer. These power outages left hundreds of thousands of customers without power for days. We think a large fraction of those LEAF owners would be interested in a low-cost home power backup system.

Looking at the rest of the country, we find that six states have an overlap between high EV sales and high frequency of electricity outages.

To establish and validate our serviceable market (SAM) size, we used another round of social media ads to answer the question: What fraction of bi-directional capable vehicle owners want to purchase our product at a specific price point?

Our new ads were targeted at Nissan LEAF owners, and customers were presented with an option to reserve the product. Unfortunately, we did not receive enough reservations to justify manufacturing the product. We will continue to monitor the V2G market, including the new CCS vehicle models. As more auto OEMs enable bi-directional capabilities on their vehicles, we expect this to be a much larger market in the future.

The V2G project has now ended. We are no longer accepting reservations.