Imagine a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle that could be plugged into your home to power various appliances. The rolling blackouts that were experienced throughout Tokyo in March have apparently provoked Japanese manufacturers to develop the technology which could be used to power household appliances during power shortages.
According to a recent Automotive News report, Mitsubishi and Nissan are working on releasing electric and hybrid vehicles which will be capable of discharging adequate power through an alternating current outlet.
Mitsubishi, in particular, is working on increasing the current 100-watt discharge capacity of the i-MiEV up to 1500 watts. Yoshikazu Nakamura, head of the Mitsubishi’s electric vehicle business, said with that amount of power "you’d be able to power a rice cooker or a microwave".
Toyota has also announced it will provide such technology next year, when it releases an outlet package for the new Toyota Prius which will convert direct electricity from the vehicles' batteries into alternating current via an outlet and lead. This will also allow users to discharge the Prius for use of household appliances. The system is currently available on the Toyota Estima hybrid.
It's a relatively new use for electric vehicles and it is apparently causing a stir in Japan at the moment. Takeshi Miyao, an analyst for Carnorama consulting company in Tokyo, said in a recent report,
"Electric cars now have the chance to demonstrate how useful their batteries can be. Electric vehicles have an advantage, more than ever."
Sales of electric vehicles and hybrids are already expected to rise in the future, but even more so if this new use becomes very accessible. Mitsubishi currently sells a device for the i-MiEV which converts DC current into AC as an optional $200 extra, but it offers only 100 watts.