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Nissan Motor Co's new Leaf, the latest version of the world's top selling electric vehicle (EV), are seen during its world premiere in Chiba, Japan, September 6, 2017.
Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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BATTERIES ON WHEELS

Japan wants to boost the use of electric vehicles as a power source during natural disasters

By Echo Huang

Japan, a country which frequently suffers natural calamities such as tsunamis, typhoons, and earthquakes—which can often paralyze energy supplies—is looking to further harness the power of batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs) during such disasters, local media reported (paywall) yesterday (Feb.20)

Nissan, which produces the Leaf, the world’s best-selling EV model, plans to hold an event in March to let people stay overnight in their cars and try using the electricity stored in their car batteries to simulate the experience of being in an emergency, according to Japanese newswire Jiji (link in Japanese). A fully charged electric vehicle can supply power to a standard home for up to four days, a Nissan official told the news outlet.

The company last year came to an agreement with Tokyo’s Nerima Ward and the city of Yokosuka to provide EVs for free in emergency situations. Nerima also last year (link in Japanese) implemented a system whereby owners of EVs would be able to loan their vehicles out for free to those in need during a disaster, and also started using EVs for its fleet of police patrol cars.

Nissan explained the concept of using EVs as a power source in case of a disaster in a video it made in 2017. When a disaster hits, it can take more than a day to restore electricity, and during that period, EVs can be used as an emergency backup to supply energy for heating, cooking, and telephones, according to the video.

Nissan competitor Mitsubishi also provided EVs as power sources (link in Japanese) to affected regions after a huge earthquake struck Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan in 2016.

Despite producing the best-selling EV model in the world, however, it may take a long time for EVs to become more widespread as an emergency power source in Japan, as they made up just 0.2% (paywall) of vehicles on the road as of 2018.

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