Nissan Motors Creating Auto That Doubles As Home Generator

by Cornelius Nunev

Japanese car manufacturer Nissan Motors is trying to develop a new feature for its eco-friendly Leaf car. They want it to be used as an emergency house generator. The Japanese company is working to gear back up to full production after the recent disasters, and at the same time, develops the new technology. Buying one will cost personal loans because of the high price.

Considered pure electric

Last December, the Leaf went on sale. It is a fully electric vehicle that runs solely on battery power. The Chevrolet Volt and other eco-friendly cars are typically hybrid cars. A gas-powered generator is used to back up batteries. A high-performance, 24kwh lithium-ion battery can be found in the Leaf. If you need one, you will have to pay about $37,000 or 2.98 yen.

A Leaf rather than a generator

Nissan president Carlos Ghosn reported the automobile manufacturer is working to equip its Leaf EVs (Electronic Automobiles) with the technology to feed power into private homes. Showrooms with new automobiles should take place fairly soon. The company hopes to have these out in the near future.

More interest has been put into the automobile considering the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Hideaki Watanabe, head of Nissan's zero-emissions automobiles, explained "Some people are saying that instead of installing a generator, they would just buy a Leaf." Household storage batteries with capacity comparable to that of the Leaf currently sell for about 2 million yen, about $25,000 United States, in Japan.

The average home can run for 24 hours in the U.S. with 24 kilowatt hours, which the Leaf can supposedly store. The car could charge the home's energy overnight if there were a crisis of some sort.

Charge units not yet accessible here

Nissan hopes to market the home-powering vehicles without the addition of more hardware. Nissan's quick-charge unit can, in just 30 minutes, restore 80 percent of energy which Watanabe thinks could be a way to connect it to the house. It takes a normal outlet about 20 hours to charge the car. So far, the quick-charge units are only available in Japan and run about $15,000. Watanabe hopes to get that cost down to about $10,000.

Changing plant opening

About 7,600 Leafs have been sold to date, and about 2,000 of those went to U.S. automobile owners. Production slowed with the Japan disasters though. That means the Smyrna, Tenn., production plant was unable to open. The opening will most likely be a while still. It may be late next year before it takes place. "Because of the earthquake, it's putting us in a difficult situation," Watanabe explained. "But we're not giving up yet," he explained.

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