Consumer Alert: Imagine using your car to power your home. The future is here!

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A new technology that powers electric cars will soon be able to power your home too!  I learned about it while in Detroit this week.  I was there for a speaking engagement and decided to drop in on the huge annual auto show.  As a consumer investigator, I wanted to know what is new, now and next.  I learned all that and more, and of course, I had to share it with you.

The vehicles getting the most attention at the North American International Auto Show were those powered in part or entirely by electricity. That’s why the company Autel had a huge display.

The company has created what looks like a gas pump. But it’s far more cool. It’s a bidirectional car charger for vehicles with bidirectional batteries like the F-150 Lightning.

“Whenever there’s a power outage, or even when prices are too high, you can use your car’s battery to literally power your home,” said Mike Madden, an Autel Marketing manager.

The battery in this F-150 Lightning could essentially act as your home generator.  That’s what bidirectional means. These new electric batteries take energy but also give energy.

“And that will take some stress off the grid a little bit,” said Madden. “Right now all EVs are taking from the grid and not giving back. With our solution, you can give that energy back to the home and eventually giving it back to the grid.”

That’s exactly what will be needed when and if the majority of us are driving electric vehicles. But what about price? Are electric cars and hybrids still far more expensive than their gas counterparts? I checked out three vehicles prominently featured on the floor. The biggest attention-getter was Ford’s new all-electric F-150 Lightning.  At a base price of $39,974, it’s about $8400 more than its gas counterpart which starts at $31,520.

But the hybrid Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is priced at $58,465.  That’s $20,140 more than the gas version which is $38,325.

2022 Toyota Sienna

The 2022 Toyota Sienna is only being sold as a hybrid.  So I compared it to the similar gas-powered Odyssey.  Priced at $34,560, the Sienna is only $1520 than the Odyssey which has a base price of $33,040.

Clearly, the price differences in EVs and their gas counterparts are all over the map. But keep in mind, when you buy an electric vehicle you can get a federal tax credit up to $7,500 a state rebate up to $2,000.

As for those bidirectional batteries, right now they’re just in the Ford-F-150, but Madden predicts  we’ll see them in many more vehicles by as soon as next year.