The all-electric Renault 5 will be a giant power bank on wheels
New bi-directional charging capability will help with the vacuuming, too
The new Renault 5 is arriving next year with a bi-directional on-board charger. Essentially, that’ll turn the 5 into one giant power bank.
Bi-directional charging technology enables the flow of electricity to go both ways. That means you can draw energy from the grid to recharge the car’s battery. Or send it back. Or use it to run the vacuum cleaner when you tackle those dusty floor mats.
And by pulling juice down when it's cheap and sending it back when it's expensive, you can pocket the profit. At least, in theory.
Mobilize – Renault’s electric-tech focussed subsidiary – has built a whole ecosystem around the 5’s two-way charging feature. Firstly, there’s a fancy new socket, aligning with the usual 220V supply from any three-pin plug and away from the car's 12V legacy.
Then there’s the shiny new wallbox, the aptly named Mobilize Powerbox. That does everything a usual home charger does, and then some. Finally, an energy contract for your home completes the deal.
By enabling customers to sell their energy, Mobilize reckons it can save Renault 5 drivers on household bills. Based on an average supply, the brand thinks some drivers could slash their charging costs by as much as 50 per cent.
The catch? While you can buy the Renault 5 without the fancy wallbox and/or different energy contract, you won’t be able to use the bi-directional charging facilities. You need all three elements in place to do so.
Mobilize has partnered with The Mobility House as an energy supplier and intends to provide carbon neutral power to charge your car. If you already have a bi-directional charger (you early adopter, you), it won’t be compatible with the 5. How annoying.
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The Powerbox is likely to be included as part of the standard package when you buy the car. Drivers also get control of the feed back to the Grid via a smartphone app.
Eric Blanchard, chief of electric systems projects at Renault, dismissed any concerns about battery degradation due to repeated charging and discharging, and confirmed the feature would roll-out to the Megane E-Tech Electric and Scenic in due course.