Hyundai today opened a raffle for an overnight stay at “the world’s first self-driving hotel”, located off the grid on “200 acres of ancient farmland” an hour outside of London.
The pop-up facility will be powered by energy stored in the batteries of a fleet of Hyundai Ioniq 5 all-electric cars. It will be open from October 19 to November 5, and adventure travelers and experience seekers can enter to win(Opens in a new window) one night stay for two before October 18.
Computational performance of the proposed design for the Hyundai Hotel. (Credit: Hyundai)
Hyundai designed the experience to be a “marked leap in sustainability” and a completely off-the-grid luxury facility. Guests will enjoy a three-course menu curated by Grace Dent of MasterChef UK and made with local ingredients sourced from Essex. Guests can watch an outdoor movie while wrapped in a recycled plastic blanket and enjoy an on-site pub mix.
After waking up to “birdsong and breakfast on your sun deck” and sipping a white at the Hyundai Cafe, day trips are encouraged to explore nearby trails on an electric bike and visit Greensted Church(Opens in a new window)the oldest wooden church in the world dating back to 998 AD.
Ioniq 5, largely sold out for 2022 ahead of a 2023 model(Opens in a new window)“is able to power the hotel and its experiences using the V2L function which provides AC power (230V/50Hz) up to a maximum power consumption of 3.6 kW (or 15 Amps),” says Hyundai(Opens in a new window). “An adapter from the car provides an outlet into which standard household appliances can be plugged.”
Two-way vehicles can take power from a charger and use that power for non-driving purposes. (Credit: Wallbox.com)
This is called two-way charging or using energy stored in an electric vehicle as a backup generator. The battery can receive the energy to use for driving, but also extract the energy for other purposes.
The ability to reverse power flow is seen as one of the biggest opportunities for electric vehicles to change the way we power homes, apartment buildings and even cities by connecting them to the grid. Another name for this is “vehicle to network” or V2G.
Reducing energy costs for everyone
The UK and the rest of Europe are currently experiencing an energy crisis(Opens in a new window) as it diverts Russian energy sources to support Ukraine. The need for smart energy distribution systems is greater than ever.
“Just today, the UK’s National Grid warned of rolling blackouts this winter(Opens in a new window) so the UK faces a very clear and present risk unless creative energy management solutions are developed immediately,” says Joseph Vellone, head of North America at UK-based EV charging software company ev.energy(Opens in a new window). “I commend Hyundai for piloting this kind of hotel and this kind of proof of concept.”
The setting of the Hyundai Hotel. (Credit: Kip Hideaways)
Optimizing energy distribution can reduce costs for consumers who may experience high quality prices during peak consumption hours. A study(Opens in a new window) even found that two-way electric vehicles could save billions over time.
“At the end of the day, vehicle-to-grid charging and bi-directional charging will lower energy costs for everyone,” says Vellone. “It allows electric vehicle drivers and electric grid operators to store electricity when it’s cheaper. And then export it when it would otherwise be too expensive.”
In theory, he says, the Hyundai Hotel’s energy costs could be lower than a typical hotel, which could lower room rates. The hotel currently offers free accommodation as a promotion, but this could prove true for long-term, off-grid hotel concepts in the future.
The Ford F-150 Lightning is used as a generator to power a tailgate. (Credit: Ford)
Few EVs have two-way capability today, but the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ford F-150 Lightning electric trucks both offer it as an added benefit to owners. For the average consumer, using two-way power closely mimics what a generator can do.
Recommended by our editors
“Two-way power flow harnesses your truck’s battery to keep the lights on,” according to Ford’s website(Opens in a new window). Early recipients of the new truck were also surprised to see that it comes with an adapter to charge up dormant Teslas using bi-directional power.
However, commercial EV fleets using bi-directional power will have a greater impact than consumer-owned vehicles. For example, during grid-stressing hurricanes and heat waves, a network of electric vehicles could “help reduce disease throughout a utility’s service area during peak loads,”(Opens in a new window) at the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Uses for bidirectional charging (Credit: US Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy)
On a regular basis, most of the potential lies in the distribution of power from predictable and coordinated fleets of electric vehicles, such as electric school buses. Buses pick up and drop off at scheduled times and have a large amount of excess battery power.
Sophisticated local governments and organizations can use software to move power in and out of the battery to optimize for efficiency, rather than strapping it inside the school bus, Vellone explains. Mobile apps, websites and software on both chargers and batteries can direct much of this activity, making it easier to manage.
Ev.energy offers intelligent charging software that helps manage power flow and reduce costs. (Credit: ev.energy)
The Hyundai Hotel is a uniquely leisure-focused take on these lofty goals, offering a new way of thinking about the uses of two-way power and travel. Interested parties can explore the Hyundai Hotel through this interactive graphic(Opens in a new window)and on the website for Kip Hideaways,(Opens in a new window) a vacation rental company that appears to provide the hotel. (Hyundai did not elaborate on the actual facilities when contacted for comment.)
Get our best stories!
Sign up What’s new now? to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.