By Jennifer Hiller
Ford Motor Co. and California utility PG&E Corp. plan to test the ability of the F-150 Lightning to provide backup power to homes and connect the electric vehicle to the power grid, PG&E CEO Patti Poppe and Ford CEO Jim Farley said Thursday at the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference in Houston.
Tests will start this spring, when Ford is scheduled to begin selling the F-150 Lightning, the electric version of the nation’s top-selling pickup truck.
Vehicle-to-home technology could help PG&E customers retain power during pre-emptive outages meant to reduce the risk of power lines sparking wildfires during windstorms. Ford had long planned for drivers to tap the Lightning for backup power at home, but hadn’t considered grid uses, Mr. Farley said.
“This is a really big deal for us to take this next step of bidirectional charging, which I think Ford is uniquely positioned to do,” Mr. Farley said. “I think we’ll probably make most of our vehicles bidirectional.”
Mr. Farley said the option will differentiate Ford from Tesla. Tesla sells its Powerwall battery system for homes but doesn’t currently enable bidirectional vehicle charging.
“We don’t think Tesla will do this because they have an energy business to protect. So it’s very unique positioning for Ford as well,” Mr. Farley said.
Ms. Poppe said one in five electric vehicles sold in the U.S. are in PG&E’s service area. “That’s 6,600 megawatts of capacity that’s driving around today,” she said.
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