Japanese carmakers are ramping up the development and marketing of equipment that enables owners of electric vehicles to use electricity stored in their car batteries to power their homes and appliances.
Nissan Motor Co. said it plans to make its EV Power Station available to consumers by mid-June. The EV Power Station supplies power stored in the lithium-ion batteries of its Leaf EV for use in households.
The system operates by connecting the Leaf to an electricity distribution panel in the house via the EV Power Station unit. If the batteries in the car are fully charged, the electricity stored in them can meet the electricity needs of an average household for two days. The power can be also supplied from the home to the car to charge the batteries.
If government subsidies are applied, the EV Power Station is priced at about 330,000 yen ($4,155), including installation.
“If you store electricity in the Leaf at night and use it (at home) in the daytime, when the power demand is highest, you can help balance the entire supply-and-demand situation of electricity (in society),” said Hideaki Watanabe, Nissan corporate vice president.
In April, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. put on sale its MiEV Power Box, which makes it possible to use power stored in its i-MiEV electric car to power household appliances, such as electric heating devices and rice cookers.
The MiEV Power Box sells for around 150,000 yen. The unit is also portable and can be carried when i-MiEV owners go camping or face emergency situations. The unit provides 1.5 kilowatts of electricity for five to six hours.
Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are developing technologies that can use next-generation eco-friendly cars, such as plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs), for more efficient energy usage at home.
Toyota, which put on sale this year its Prius PHV that can be charged at home, has developed a house that is equipped with solar power generation devices and family-use storage batteries in cooperation with its subsidiary Toyota Housing Corp.
Toyota is planning to develop a system that enables the Prius PHV to share power with households and market the Prius PHV and the new system as a set.
PHVs differ from EVs in that the storage capacity of their batteries is smaller. But PHVs combine the use of a conventional internal combustion engine with electric power supplied by batteries for propulsion. They can generate power if there is gasoline present.
On a full tank of gas, PHVs can meet the electricity needs of an average household for four days. Using that function, Toyota plans to develop a system in which a household can meet all of its electricity needs by itself without depending on electric power companies.
Honda is also getting into the act. In April, Honda started a demonstration test in Saitama in which solar-power generation devices were combined with the electricity stored in a Honda fuel cell car to power a household.
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