Big shift coming to the EV industry

Big shift coming to the EV industry

December 18, 20233 min read

Already a pioneer in the industry, the University of Delaware has once again played a key role in taking electric vehicles to the next level. Researchers there helped bring about new automotive standards that will drive lower-cost charging and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) integration and standardize Tesla’s connector so that future U.S.-made EVs will have this technology on it.

The two newest standards for electric cars, both approved this month by standards committees of SAE International (formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers), should bring EV drivers great joy, according to Willett Kempton, professor at the University of Delaware’s Center for Transportation Electrification on UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus.

Center director Rodney McGee was chairman of the two SAE committees, while postdoctoral researcher Garrett Ejzak, Kempton and administrative assistant Becky Cox played key roles in the engineering, research and policy work undergirding the new EV standards.

“These developments mark a big shift for the EV industry,” said Kempton, who is affiliated with research centers in both the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment and the College of Engineering at UD. “Drivers will gain access to more charging stations and lower-cost charging. They will have new options for using their EV to help fight climate change and even make money when plugged in. These changes are likely to spur even greater adoption of EVs for clean, affordable transportation.”

The so-called “V2G standard” (SAE J3068) provides the missing link for widespread use of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, which Kempton and his colleagues invented at UD more than two decades ago.

“We’ve been doing V2G for 20 years here at the University of Delaware, wondering when the rest of the world would catch on,” Kempton said. “One key missing piece has been a complete standard for controlling and managing V2G, which now exists within SAE J3068.”

V2G allows you to plug your EV into an electrical outlet and send power from the car battery back to your local energy utility, making a little income while helping the nation’s power grid. This is becoming increasingly more important as more renewable sources of energy come online. When the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, EV owners can plug in and “perform important energy-balancing services,” according to Kempton.

The savings from V2G can add up.

“Our V2G demonstrations show an EV can earn between $100 a year and $1,500 a year. The wide variation is due to different markets and to regulations in different utilities. It also depends on the EV’s capabilities,” Kempton explained.

Current EVs need a substantial update or retrofit to be able to do V2G, while new EVs equipped with the signaling technology are expected to be available by 2025.

This standard also will make it possible to use your EV as backup power for your house. As extreme weather increases with climate change, that’s a good energy reserve to have when the lights go out.

It takes one-and-a-half kilowatts to power the average house, Kempton said. Your electric car can produce 80 kilowatts of power, enough to run a whole house and more.

“So, your EV can both help fight climate change and keep your house going when extreme storms happen,” Kempton said.

With SAE J3400 now approved, the connector system Tesla developed for EV charging will now be standardized and can be included on future EVs of any brand. The first non-Tesla cars with this technology, also known as the North American Standard Connector, are expected to hit the market in 2025.

“This will eliminate Tesla’s monopoly on their charging stations, making them available for use by any new EV,” Kempton said.

According to Statista, the U.S. had more than 53,000 public EV charging stations and over 138,000 public charging outlets in May 2023.

Visit Kempton's profile and click on the contact button to arrange an interview.

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  • Willett Kempton
    Willett Kempton Professor, Marine Science and Policy

    Prof. Kempton invented vehicle-to-grid power (V2G); he researches, publishes and lectures on offshore wind power and on electric vehicles.

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