Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota Turn Electric Cars Into Backup Batteries

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2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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Ask most people which car would be best to have in a disaster and they’re likely to name something like a Humvee. 

While the now deceased gas-guzzling Humvee be good for navigating through deserted streets and clearing obstacles in the road it can’t help you cook a meal. 

But it turns out plug in cars can. 

Spurred on by the desire to provide Japanese citizens with a portable power station to help keep themselves fed and their homes warm, in a disaster, Mitsubishi announced back in June that it was planning on developing an accessory for the 2012 Mitsubishi which would turn it into a large emergency battery backup system. 

Mitsubishi 'i' Emergency Power Supply

Mitsubishi 'i' Emergency Power Supply

Now Nissan has picked up the idea, announcing it has a similar system in development which it will unveil early next month. The system will be designed to work in its 2012 Leaf hatchback. 

The world’s largest automaker Toyota isn’t left out either. It announced earlier this week that it was working on offering a 100 Volt AC outlet in its Japanese market 2012 Prius, meaning the car’s combined battery pack and gasoline engine could provide enough electricity to keep a basic home running for up to two days on a full tank of gasoline.

Of course, providing electric cars with the ability to provide power back to a home isn’t a new idea, nor is it one specifically restricted to a natural disaster. 

2011 Toyota Prius

2011 Toyota Prius

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Charging from the grid at night time when the power demand is the lowest, a plug-in vehicle equipped with an on-board AC power outlet can help level out the peaks in demand by allowing consumers to draw power to run their home at times when the power grid is most under strain. 

There are no more details yet about Nissan’s AC outlet for the 2012 Nissan Leaf, but if Mitsubishi’s experiences are anything to go by in a post-earthquake Japan, emergency AC power might be a permanent fixture of future plug-in vehicles. 

[Bloomberg, Wards]
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Comments (5)
  1. Excellent, come the apocalypse we'll be able to sit down to a lovely bowl of rice on a nice freshly laundered table-cloth.

    I think I'd use it more for family outings or just to power in-car accessories. It might seem like we already have access to power in ICE cars by using the cheap 12V inverters but, I've found a few of those to be unreliable. This would more likely be a better built offering.

  2. I thought all the electric cars already had that ability as standard. As much as they are charging for electric cars, a person would think that they have vanes of gold and silver running through them too. When I can afford an electric car, I was going to take my electric hotplate along on our camping trips and make a good home cooked meal without the "eye-burning" wood smoke changing the taste of the food. I just hope that I am still young enough to go camping when the price of electrics come down, or make it into West Virginia.

  3. This is a great idea, even if you only use it for camping! I have been hoping this would progress. Will be looking for it in my next vehicle.

  4. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that GM offered 120v outlets as standard on it's original "2 mode hybrid" pickup trucks several years ago. The idea was that contractors and other business users could power electric tools without having to carry around a generator.

    Can V2G be far behind?

  5. I would want the capability to run my large refrigerator and save my food in an extended power outage.

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