EV ‘range wars’ could boost V2G potential, says Rivian and other automakers

Diving Brief:

  • Automakers say they are engaged in a ‘range war’, adding energy storage capacity to convince EV customers concerned about how far they can go with their car or truck before needing to recharge .
  • However, “you can’t just hoard batteries” because the extra storage can quickly increase the price and weight of the vehicle, Rivian Senior Director of Public Policy Chris Nevers said last week at the Novi Battery Show outside Detroit.
  • The median range of new electric vehicles is around 250 miles and has been increasing for years. The 2020 model year was the first in which an electric vehicle reached an estimated maximum range of more than 400 miles, according to the US Department of Energy.

Overview of the dive:

Consumers will need to have access to a variety of electric vehicles with different battery capacities and ranges in order to fully transition from internal combustion engine vehicles, automakers agreed at the Michigan Battery Conference last week.

“Consumers are always looking for a combination of attributes, with price always being one of them, especially for vehicles,” said Michael Maten, director of electric vehicle policy and regulatory affairs at General Motors.

A range of around 300 miles is often seen as a “tipping point” for customers to switch from an internal combustion engine to an electric vehicle. GM recently unveiled an electric 2024 Chevy Equinox, a mainstream crossover that can go 300 miles on certain specs. Rivian, which focuses on trucks and off-road vehicles, offers its R1S with ranges that can exceed 320 miles.

Despite similar ranges, the Equinox starts at $30,000 and the R1S at $78,000.

“A 300 mile truck battery has a lot more kilowatt hours, a lot more energy storage, than a 300 mile Equinox battery,” Maten said.

“It’s not just the range. It’s the energy capability,” said Karl Plattenberger, chief powertrain and thermal systems engineer at Mahindra Automotive North America. The company manufactures electric tractors.

“Utility companies don’t just see this expansion of electric vehicles as a demand they need to meet,” Plattenberger said. “It’s also going to be critical in terms of getting power back to the grid.”

Utilities are beginning to look beyond managed load and demand response when it comes to electric vehicles, to consider bi-directional energy flows and vehicle-to-grid applications to support the distribution system . New York City’s first vehicle-to-grid charging system went live in Brooklyn in August.

Longer-range vehicles will allow consumers to become electricity ‘arbiters’, sending power back to the grid when prices are high, Plattenberger added.

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