GM plans to offer bidirectional charging capability for every one of its Ultium EVs, the company underscored earlier this year.
That will soon include a toolkit of useful features for interfacing with the home, like backing up the power during a blackout or natural disaster. As GM recently verified, there’s no need to wait to take delivery of an Ultium EV until then over concerns of compatibility.
All the physical hardware for bidirectional charging is being built into the 2024 Chevy Blazer EV from the start, confirmed GM Energy director Derek Sequeira to Green Car Reports at the recent launch of the Blazer EV, while the software to enable it will be in place next year.
2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV with GM Ultium Home energy system
Getting the necessary hardware into vehicles first is a different approach than some other automakers have taken. VW, for instance, has teased the possibility for several years, but it still hasn’t arrived in the U.S. versions of the VW ID.4. Likewise, the E-GMP platform that underpins many of the latest EVs from Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis was developed from the start for bidirectional charging readiness. While it's offered modest Vehicle to Load (V2L) capability to power campsites and more, it’s being deployed for the first time on the platform, with all the necessary pieces in place for the U.S., in the 2024 Kia EV9.
The GM hardware set, which the automaker displayed at Chevrolet Blazer EV launch event, is the start of something big from GM in many ways.
GM Energy home bundle - displayed with Chevy Blazer EV
Revealed last June, it includes all that owners will need to make their EVs perform from the get-go (software-permitting) as home backup power—and over the long run, a lot more than that. The so-called Ultium Home V2H Bundle includes a PowerShift bidirectional charger—the first ever to be offered directly through GM—plus an enablement kit. The latter includes an inverter, a grid disconnect switch, and the 12-volt dark-start battery that’s necessary to move the contactors in the case of a power outage.
The PowerShift wallbox is good for charging at 19.2 kw AC, while discharge power from the unit is DC and peaks at 9.6 kw.
Solar will be optional and, at the time of the reveal, GM mentioned PowerBank battery energy-storage units in 10.6-kwh and 17.7-kwh capacities.
GM Energy - Chevy Silverado EV energy management system
Coordinated with its flagship electric pickup
While it’s delivering Blazer EVs before all the bidirectional pieces are in place, GM wants to make sure that both the flagship hardware and software sets for its charging ecosystem come with the Silverado EV from the start. The V2H Bundle will first be tied to the Silverado EV RST, the top-of-the-line model that’s expected to have a sticker price around $105,000.
GM in August announced that all of its Ultium EVs would have bidirectional charging capability with vehicle-to-home (V2H) backup by the 2026 model year. It said the feature would roll out first on the 2024 Chevy Silverado EV RST, then the GMC Sierra EV Denali Edition 1, Chevrolet Blazer EV, Chevrolet Equinox EV, Cadillac Lyriq, and Cadillac Escalade IQ models.
Sequeira hinted that the price of the bundle will be competitive. The equivalent Ford system, not counting solar but including the charger and everything else owners need for home backup, costs about $6,000 including installation.
SunPower is the preferred EV charging installer for the home hardware, although Sequeira said GM is not revealing its hardware partner yet. It says the supplier is well-known in the industry for this type of equipment, including inverters, with “great reliability.”
GM Energy home bundle - displayed with Chevy Blazer EV
“All of our products have passed UL,” said Sequeira to Green Car Reports, referring to Underwriters Laboratories safety certification. “It’s just a matter of us getting it out there and starting to talk to customers about it.”
GM plans to reveal some further details about the system perhaps as soon as next month.
One of them may relate to the interface. GM previously suggested that GM Energy might have its own app. But in this era of app overload, Sequeira suggested that it all might be part of the same app owners are used to.
“The goal at launch is to integrate this all into the MyChevrolet app,” he said, so it would be part of the same interface you’d use for unlocking, remote start, and more.
GM Energy app
EVs as grid-connected energy devices
Home backup capability is just the first of many tech pieces that bidirectional charging taps into.
The company made clear in October 2022, with the formation of GM Energy, that it sees EV-based home energy services as a big business opportunity, and it could allow GM to step into the role of energy broker. GM said that it eventually wants to be involved with “cohesive energy management for home, commercial, and EV customers, with solutions ranging from bi-directional charging, vehicle-to-home (V2H), and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications, to stationary storage, solar products, software applications, cloud management tools, microgrid solutions, hydrogen fuel cells and more.”
Regarding that grand vision, GM is starting to talk to public utilities. It plans to incorporate results from the pilot projects it has in the works into those talks, including pilot programs in California aiming to help smooth loads on the grid.
“We want to explore more on what we can do, and make sure we’re working with them as they develop these programs so that the hardware is capable,” said Sequeira. “And at the same time, we’re staying hand-in-hand when it comes to what the programs will look like.”