Nissan has rolled out a concept electric vehicle that I have to admit to liking much more than my brain says I should.
It’s a concept emergency response vehicle that looks like it’s made to drive superheroes around during the apocalypse. (Fitting for 2020, eh?) It’s set up to supply emergency mobile power supply. It’s got tires that look like they’re made for a hot lava spill. It’s got lighting to get around as in the midst of a torrential downpour and hurricane. And, as cheesy as it is, the name RE-LEAF makes me smile.
It also has features you can’t spot from looking at the pictures. “Alongside modifications to navigate roads covered in debris, the RE-LEAF features weatherproof plug sockets mounted directly to the exterior of the vehicle, which enable 110-230v devices to be powered from the car’s high capacity lithium-ion battery,” Nissan writes.
The giant monitor hooked up to the back after you open the hatch was probably the biggest surprise. And, to be honest, that would be a wicked CleanTechnica work station.
“The integrated energy management system can run medical, communications, lighting and other life-supporting equipment.” Okay, I guess that’s more important than writing some cleantech articles — even articles about … the RE-LEAF.
While I may joke a bit about the apocalypse, the truth is: we’ve been disrupting our climate so much that we are essentially riding into one. Nissan has done its homework and decked out the RE-LEAF to handle exactly the kind of climate apocalypse we’re bringing on ourselves. “Natural disasters are the biggest cause of power outages,” the company notes. “A 2019 World Bank report found natural shocks and climate change caused 37% of outages in Europe between 2000 and 2017, and 44% of power outages in the US over the same period.
“When a disaster hits, the time for electricity supply to be restored is typically 24-48 hours, depending on the severity of the damage. During that period, electric vehicles can be used to provide a zero-emission, mobile emergency power supply.”
This vehicle model is a concept vehicle, but Nissan highlights that it has actually used the LEAF in Japan since 2011 to help with various types of disaster relief, something we’ve covered in years past. Additionally, going forward, Nissan wants to do more and has “formed partnerships with more than 60 local governments to support disaster relief efforts.” The company is especially keen to point out why electric vehicles can be so ideal in times of disaster.
“Electric vehicles are emerging as one of the technologies that can improve resilience in the power sector. By having thousands of EVs available on standby, either as disaster-support vehicles or plugged into the network through Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), they’re uniquely capable of creating a virtual power plant to maintain a supply of energy during a major outage,” Helen Perry, Head of Electric Passenger Cars & Infrastructure for Nissan in Europe, stated.
The current LEAF+ is no battery beast, but it has a 62 kWh battery that Nissan says could provide power to an average European house for 6 days.
Nissan notes that this capability is due to the LEAF’s unique bidirectional charging capability, something almost no electric vehicles have but which the LEAF has had in its deck of cards since 2010.
As someone who has lived most of his life in Florida, I’m so used to hurricanes that I don’t think much about them even as one named storm after another rolls across the Atlantic or the Gulf. However, I also know that a bad hurricane striking a city or region hard can be absolutely devastating and can leave people scrambling for the basics for days or weeks — whether that me food, water, shelter, or electricity. The idea of a flexible, resilient fleet of electric RE-LEAF vehicles is an appealing dream that I think should be turned into reality. These should be a part of any jurisdiction’s disaster relief fleet and operations.
I’ll admit it, though — I probably wouldn’t have picked up this story and cover it if the pics of the RE-LEAF didn’t make it look so cool. The concept is interesting, but it’s not new and is something we’ve covered several times. It would be helpful for society if many such disaster response vehicles did get produced and rolled out to vulnerable and suffering regions across the world, so I hope the cool design of the RE-LEAF will help make that happen, just as it persuaded me to open the press release about the concept vehicle.
More details about the RE-LEAF can be found here, including the reasons for the color scheme and the name.
All images courtesy Nissan.