Some electric cars can power appliances and even homes during power outages and other extreme weather events.
The morning after Hurricane Ian knocked out power to Westley and Sarah Ferguson’s home in Haines City, Fla., a suburb southwest of Orlando, Westley installed two extension cords into their home from outlets in the Ford Couple’s F-150 Lightning. He plugged the refrigerator into one and a power strip into the second, which soon powered lamps, fans, and a television.
The Fergusons’ setup was more rudimentary than the Lightning’s design allows – Ford’s top-of-the-line home charger will automatically start powering an entire house if the truck is plugged in during a power outage – but it was good enough for them. cook a beef stew on an electric stove and then host another neighborhood couple for an impromptu movie night. Cellular and internet service was also down, so they used a Blu-ray player to watch Casper and a turntable to spin the big band’s jazz records. “There was nowhere for us to go,” says Westley, a 33-year-old web designer. “So we just stayed home.”
The Fergusons, who have been in Florida since 2013 and lived through Hurricane Irma, had no natural disasters in mind when they ordered their Lightning in May of last year. Westley had wanted an electric vehicle for a long time and Sarah, who works in health care management, wanted a truck to transport things for her side business which organized picnics. Before Ian, they had mainly used the truck’s 12 power outlets – split between the bed, cabin and trunk – to drown overnight on the Space Coast.
“You want to use it when you go camping or have a tailgate. It’s the fun party stuff,” says Westley. lights. But it was really nice to have.
While Ford has made two-way charging and the ability to power a home “if needed” a routine selling point in television commercials for the Lightning, evidence suggests that most EV buyers are alike. the Fergusons: Disaster preparedness is not a big part of their thinking. In a survey of more than 1,500 electric vehicle owners in the United States and commissioned by Bloomberg Green, none of the 1% of respondents who listed their own reasons for buying an electric car mentioned it. The majority cited cost savings and environmental benefits.
“Nothing in our market research indicates that emergency preparedness is a notable reason to buy in the electric vehicle market,” says Mark Schirmer, spokesperson for research outlet Cox Automotive, which regularly polls buyers on their buying decisions. “Consumers primarily prioritize price, monthly payment, range and style. Emergency preparedness might be a good thing to have.
But even if it doesn’t boost sales, the backup power potential of electric vehicles is a perk that can delight owners and cement loyalty. After Westley posted footage of his storm experience on social media, Ford CEO Jim Farley shared it on his LinkedIn feed, saying the company had seen an increase in owners using Ford’s vehicles. this way after the storm.
Two-way charging, also known as two-way charging, comes in different varieties. Ford is one of the few automakers in the US market to offer models with vehicle-to-home (V2H) capability, where the flow of electricity through a home charger can be reversed, allowing the car to power a entire house. These configurations open up the possibility of vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, systems where utility companies use idle electric vehicles to help manage the load. (V2G trials are already underway in Europe and the United States.) But even a few in-car power outlets for plugging in devices — known as vehicle-to-charge (V2L) — can be useful in a pinch. eye, like when a Texas urologist used his Rivian truck to perform a vasectomy during a power outage.
The night before Ian landed, Christine Cannella plugged her Rivian R1T pickup into the charger at her gated community in Fort Myers, Florida to recharge its battery. When Ian arrived, he cut the power at Cannella for five days – the truck became his replacement. Rivian doesn’t offer V2H charging yet, but Cannella has used the R1T’s onboard outlets to make coffee and cook hot dogs on an electric grill for her and her son. When the house got too humid, she and her cockapoo pup slept in the backseat with the air conditioner on “pet comfort” mode. “I am not a camper. I’m not an outdoors person,” she says. “But it became a tremendous benefit to me and my family during those 48 hours.”
Cannella, 51, had never owned an electric vehicle before her Rivian, which she has been driving since late last year. She bought it, she says, mainly because she works for the company. (Cannella joined Rivian in the fall of 2020 as chief labor and employment attorney. Bloomberg Green learned of her story through a Rivian spokesperson.) But next time a storm will come, she intends to use the truck more. “I plan to plug in my fridge,” she says. “I was so afraid that it would draw…