Mitsubishi Turns 2012 ‘i’ into Portable Emergency Power Station

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2012 Mitsubishi i

2012 Mitsubishi i

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Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) isn’t a new concept, and is the name given to technology which gives plug-in vehicles the ability to feed power stored in their battery packs back to the utility company at points of peak electrical demand. 

But we’ve yet to see the technology being implemented in mainstream electric cars - at least, not yet. 

Now Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has announced that it plans to offer a device that will enable owners of its ‘i’ electric car to power domestic appliances or light a whole house from its 16 kilowatt-hour battery pack in the event of a power outage, or natural disaster like the devastating Tsunami and earthquakes which hit Japan earlier this year.

The device will work a little like computer UPS power supplies, converting the direct current (DC) battery power into 100 volts alternating current (AC) to power up to 1.5 kilowatts of electronic gadgetry, enough to power a basic rice cooker, a small heater, or any number of cellphones, laptops and radios. 

Mitsubishi 'i' Emergency Power Supply

Mitsubishi 'i' Emergency Power Supply

Mitsubishi claims that the total battery capacity of the ‘i’ is enough to provide nearly 1.5 days of power to an ‘average’ Japanese home, but at a full 1.5 kilowatt drain the pack would only last 10.5 hours. 

In the aftermath of a major disaster however, 16 kilowatt-hours could be enough to provide basic cooking and communications power for up to a week if carefully rationed, allowing those without mains electricity a safe and reliable power source and lifeline to the outside world. 

While we’re glad to see Mitsubishi provide an option for future ‘i’ owners to power their home from their car in an emergency, we’re a little disappointed the device being developed will only provide 1.5 kilowatts since it is already possible to buy portable 1.5 kilowatt inverters which run from a car’s cigarette lighter socket. 

Regardless, the new device will undoubtedly provide additional functionality, allowing for devices to be run from the car’s battery pack while the car is switched off, eliminating the need to keep the car physically switched on and ready to drive while power is being drained. 

As power utilities struggle to cope with the demand for electricity, expect mains power inverters to become standard features in future electric cars, especially in areas at high risk of natural disaster .

[Mitsubishi via]

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Comments (5)
  1. Hi Nikki,
    cig lighters and inverter can only pull a few amps (2-4)
    What the i-miev and future electrics kitted this way will deliver is 110 volts, 15 amps, and 1500 watts.
    The Mini-E with a 32kw batt, could run for a week or two off the grid and be able to refridgerate your food, boil your water, cook, take care of personal hygene and illuminate at night. It could drive several miles to an unaffected area, charge and return for even greater time off the grid.
    This could be lifesaving if needed, it is also handy for camping, tailgates, neighborhood parties, remote power and such.
    It's a great feature and way beyond the 1500watts ac inverted from a 12 volt cig lighter at a couple of amps.

  2. I have seen several references to using energy stored in an e-car battery to lower grid power demands. Seems totally unrealistic to me. I would like to see an article that contains quantifiable facts and figures about how such a system might work. A more viable approach would be to install electric meters that record power usage by time of day and provide financial incentives for customers to lower thier power demands during peak periods. A big part of the cost of power is the building and running of the power plant.

  3. I've used inverters in my car for over 10 years.
    The lighter socket can handle 360 Watts (12V x 30A).
    For 1500 Watts a heavy duty cable to the battery is required (12V x 125A).
    The 1500W inverter cost $75 at a local hardware store.

  4. AC Propulsion developed Vehicle to Grid (V2G)technology into their E-Box. It incorporated a 35kWh lithium battery, 150kW motor controller with integrated 20kW charger electronics. They also developed the Mini-E for BMW, so the batteries and electronics are pretty much the same for both vehicles. Their V2G "secret sauce" is that they have high power bi-directional capability, so the utility could draw 20kW from the battery if it needed to in order to avoid a local brown out. My question is whether or not it would work if the utility power went down... probably not if it uses a synchronous inverter. Therefore, it wouldn't be helpful in an emergency unless it could generate its own 50 or 60Hz waveform.

  5. This is a great side-benefit of plug-ins. (People pay $5,000 for emergency backup diesel systems that they have to run every month or two to keep in ready.) Then extend the benefit:
    * A rooftop photovoltaic system ("islanded" from the grid) during an extended power outage can power the kitchen line and recharge the car.
    * If the weather turns cloudy, a plug-in hybrid can continue to provide power for days if its fuel tank is full.
    We at proposed such a system several years ago, and have willing integrator and utility partners (and possible auto industry cooperation), but couldn't raise funds. If someone wants to make a business of this, we can work with them….
    -- Felix Kramer, Founder, The California Cars Initiative

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