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Ford's F-150 Lightning pickup can top off the battery in a Mustang Mach-E. Photo: Ford

Electric vehicles will soon have "bidirectional" or two-way batteries that can turn cars into useful sources of power for your home, worksite or even another car.

Why it matters: One of the biggest obstacles to EV adoption is the lack of charging infrastructure.

  • But if you think of your car as a source of energy — not just a consumer of it — that whole calculus begins to change, says Reilly Brennan, a transportation investor at Trucks Venture Capital.

Driving the news: Ford Motor recently announced that the electric and hybrid versions of its popular F-150 pickup truck have an innovative feature that allows owners to "share" miles with other EVs by transferring power from one car's battery to another's.

  • An F-150 Lightning could add an average range of 20 miles per charging hour, for example, to a Mustang Mach-E SUV, or 13 miles of charge per hour to another F-150 Lightning.
  • Volkswagen's ID.4 electric crossover has bidirectional capability in Europe, but so far, not in the U.S.
  • The bidirectional feature could one day be common on all EVs.

Two-way batteries could address range anxiety and help people think differently about destination charging, Brennan writes in a new blog post.

  • "We'd move from planned, large gulps of 'fuel' to the freedom of ubiquitous power-sipping if we need it," he writes.
  • "Range anxiety for an individual car might persist, but the nearest charging station might be your neighbor's truck."

By the numbers: There are three times as many gas stations in the U.S. as there are charging stations.

  • But if every one of the estimated 1 million EVs on U.S. roads had a two-way battery, they would represent a charging network seven times larger than today's gas stations, says Brennan.
  • Ford plans to produce 150,000 F-150 Lightning trucks a year — those trucks alone would create more "distributed power stations" than all the gas stations in America, he says.

Yes, but: There's still some engineering work to redesign battery packs and software to make sure power can flow in both directions.

  • And researchers say two-way batteries wear down faster.

The bottom line: Electric vehicles don't only have to consume energy. They could also supply power to your home during an outage or help utilities manage electricity demand during peak usage.

  • Plus, your neighbor might be grateful to borrow a few extra miles.

Go deeper

Amtrak pays $2.25M to passengers with disabilities over station access

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Amtrak paid $2.25 million to more than 1,500 people as part of a disability discrimination lawsuit settlement, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

The big picture: The train operator and the DOJ reached a deal in December 2020 over Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) violations — which saw people with disabilities encounter "significant accessibility issues" at 78 stations across the U.S., the settlement states.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."

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