Amid the devastation that followed the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March, one stand-out emergency services provider emerged: the Nissan Leaf.
While many consumers remain hesitant about investing in battery-powered locomotion, the Leaf's performance in the aftermath of the disaster demonstrated the potential benefits of having an electric vehicle (EV) handy, suggests Sebastian Blanco of AutoblogGreen. Immediately following the earthquake, electric power returned to affected areas well before the fuel supply could be re-established, and the Leaf was sent to hard-hit areas to provide relief services.
In the event of an emergency, it may also prove particularly advantageous to have a fully-charged electric battery sitting in your garage. Hideaki Watanabe, Nissan’s global head of zero-emission vehicles, said earlier this month that the company's engineers are working to create technology which could use the Leaf to power a home in the event of a blackout.
The Leaf's battery holds 24 kilowatt hours of energy, only slightly less than the nearly 30 kilowatt hours used by the average American home per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In an emergency situation, though, by eschewing non-essential activities like watching television and doing laundry, the Leaf's battery charge could make a significant difference in providing electricity for essential services.
Nissan suffered significant production setbacks following the March earthquake, which caused factory shutdowns across the country. Nevertheless, the automaker's production has now returned to nearly pre-earthquake levels.
So far, the Nissan Leaf's prospects in the U.S. market look good. Of the 22,500 reservations Nissan received for the model throughout the country, the company expects 7,000 of the cars to be delivered to launch areas by the end of the summer. But depending on where in the U.S. you live, you may not be able to buy a Leaf until 2012. The 2011 Nissan Leaf SV starts at around $25,000.