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Tesla cars could give back to the grid with bidirectional charging feature

The car's battery could send excess energy to the owner's home, or even provide energy to the electrical grid at large.

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Maybe the Model 3 will help power the electrical grid in the future.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Tesla is a quiet, sneaky company. It's not uncommon for it to bake a feature in only to unlock it later down the road, or surprise owners with a new feature that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Yet, this latest discovery could foreshadow major feature changes in the future: bidirectional charging.

Electrek reported Tuesday after speaking with an electrical engineer that Tesla has actually engineered the Model 3 and Model Y chargers for bidirectional charging, but it hasn't unlocked the function yet. A quick explainer on the function will help in understanding why this could be such a big deal.

Bidirectional charging can reverse the current flow, so energy leaves the battery and ends up on the AC side of things. This function could power a Tesla owner's home or, in the grander scheme of things, push energy back into the electrical grid at large. It looks like another bread crumb as we hear more about Tesla's possible move into the utility business with its Autobidder program. The automaker applied for a utility license in the UK and operates a battery farm in Australia, which uses the Autobidder system. The system shares energy from one party to another when it's not needed in one area, but may be needed in another.

The engineer added Tesla engineers replicated the design three times for added redundancy and he believes it could be unlocked with a common over-the-air update. Whether the automaker has such grand plans, we don't know for sure. Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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