The demand for anywhere-electricity has increased. While the 12-volt batteries of the combustion engine era did not have the power, port or charging capability, new hybrid and electrical vehicles will make the old 12-volt car-chargers a thing of the past.
Aided by large battery cells, hybrid and electric vehicles offer hundreds of times more power than today’s car batteries. Access to mobile electricity is not just something for refinement and luxury, and a mobile AC outlet could be vital in a myriad of emergency situations. Just ask the Japanese.
Following the devastating Earthquake and Tsunami earlier this year, the Toyota Estima hybrid was used by some Japanese to power appliances and cook food during blackouts and power outages. In auto markets that are known for power outages and natural disasters, on-board electrical power and storage may charge an impetus for more hybrids and electrics.
Picking up on the utility of the technology, Toyota plans to outfit more vehicles with ports for AC appliances. Tapping into the growing demand for on-the-go electricity, Toyota will outfit next year’s Prius models with AC outlets that can power just about any household item with a plug. 2012 Prius models will have an optional $200 output cable giving consumers access to more than 1,500 watts for 10 hours. You could run a refrigerator!
Tokyo-based Mitsubishi has also ratcheted up its efforts to improve and produce on-board vehicle electricity technology. Just like the Toyota Estima. Mistubishi’s I-MIEV proved extremely useful during the early days of the Japan catastrophe. The I-MIEV also uses an optional $200 foot-long cable attached to the vehicle battery that turns its DC current into AC power.
Nissan is also trying to keep with the times, and plans to equip some of next year’s models with power, port, and charge technology. The Leaf’s battery system does have 2,400 watts at its disposal, but the company is still working on exact production details.
The movement towards vehicle AC power is not just good news for camp-goers who want to power their beach grills. Turning personal and corporate vehicles into electricity generators and charging stations may mean less overall fuel consumption. Although the infrastructure required to power more things via vehicle electric storage may not yet be here, automakers are definitely looking toward the future.