Volvo's new EX90 electric SUV will be able to power your appliances
New SUV will be able to power home appliances via bidirectional charging
Volvo plans to introduce bidirectional charging in the new EX90 flagship electric SUV, making it a mobile energy storage device.
The car will be able to feed power back into a house, which is especially significant to South Africans because of load-shedding. It could power any appliances in a home, from a kettle to a TV, and allow motorists to charge their cars when demand from the grid is low and save the stored energy to be used later.
Later, the EX90 will also be able to charge other electric cars, Lutz Stiegler, electric propulsion solution manager at Volvo Cars, told Motor News. Initially it will offer car-to-car charging for compatible Volvos but may eventually be rolled out to work with other brands.
Paired with smart-charging capabilities coming to the Volvo Cars smartphone app, the new EX90, which is due to hit the market in the first half of 2024, will be one of the most advanced EVs and is part of Volvo’s push to have a full-electric line up by 2030, earlier than most of its rivals.
The Swedish firm, majority-owned by China’s Geely, announced this month that it will end production of any remaining diesel models by early 2024.
The flagship EX90 SUV comes after the recent launch of the Volvo C40 Recharge in SA, and the electric line up will be further bolstered by the EX30, which is headed here in the first quarter of 2024.
The EX30 had its global unveiling in June as Volvo’s smallest and most affordable EV. Its proposed starting price of R776,000 is competitive with combustion-engine rivals. The model is offered with two battery types. Cheaper LFP (lithium iron-phosphate) batteries are targeted at clients mostly travelling within cities or over shorter distances.
More efficient but pricier NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) batteries offer an extended range of up to 480km. The range-topping EX30 claims a 0-100km/h sprint in 3.6 seconds — the quickest Volvo yet.
Besides price, Stiegler says advances are being made in terms of range and fast charging, two other factors that drive consumer pushback to EVs.
He says it will probably take a few years before the adoption of solid-state batteries, which some industry experts regard as the holy grail of powering EVs because of their high energy density and low weight, and their ability to charge faster.
“The problem with holy grails is that they are always 10 or more years ahead. Solid-state batteries are very technically complex and a lot of things need to happen to industrialise them on a scale usable for cars. Price-wise it needs to be competitive and that will take quite a while,” Stiegler says.
Even without solid state, batteries with an energy density of 500Wh/kg (Watt-hours per kilogram) that can provide ranges of over 1,000km are around the corner, which will go a long way to addressing range anxiety.
“By the end of the decade EVs could be charged with 500km of range in about 15 minutes,” Stiegler says. “You can ask is it really needed to improve this?”
Volvo is nailing its colours to the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) mast and, unlike some carmakers, Stiegler dismisses hydrogen and synthetic fuels as potential alternatives for clean-energy cars.
“BEVs are far superior to hydrogens. It might be a question for trucks, but not cars. The market has already answered this. For synthetic e-fuels the answer is the same; the BEV can do it better,” he says.
Another factor impeding the mass adoption of EVs is their perceived lack of safety after high-profile events involving EV fires, but Stiegler says electric cars are much safer than their reputation suggests. Recent fires initially blamed on EVs were found to have been caused by other means, including the highly publicised Fremantle Highway car container ship that caught fire off the Dutch coast in July.
“There are so many mechanisms in the car that monitor the battery, much more detailed than any other battery device. Car batteries are produced with very high quality and monitored with very high quality,” he says.
EV fires remain uncommon and the fire risk is between 20 times greater for petrol and diesel vehicles, according to the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.
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