The Nissan LEAF has pushed the global auto industry toward all-electric vehicles within the past year. The automaker had a rolling release of the LEAF EV across North America in 2011 to educate consumers about plug-in technology. Nissan is advancing this innovative vehicle beyond the traditional role of the automobile through its recent collaboration with Nichicon Corporation. This partnership has yielded the LEAF to Home system that allows the vehicle’s battery system to power household appliances and receive power through a home charging station. Nissan and Nichicon are focused on simplifying the EV charging process as well as the storage of electrical power.
The centerpiece of the LEAF to Home system is the EV Power Station developed by Nichicon. This station is capable of recharging the vehicle’s 24kW lithium-ion battery pack in about four hours or half the time needed for a standard outlet. The EV Power Station also acts as a conduit from the LEAF to the home electrical system. LEAF owners connect their quick-charging port to an electrical distribution panel for the home grid in order to complete transfer. Nichicon estimates that a fully charged 24kWh battery could power the typical Japanese home for two days.
This innovative vehicle-to-home charging system is beneficial to property owners beyond the simplicity of recharging EVs. The LEAF to Home system complies with international standards set by the Japan Automotive Research Institute. These standards demonstrate that the system can adapt energy storage based on average household use.
The EV Power Station also matches the CHAdeMO standard that allows charger use across multiple EV models. Nichicon and Nissan also designed the system with a timer feature along with myriad operating modes that customize the home charging experience. The dimensions of the EV Power Station compare to a typical air conditioner and the exterior shell can withstand inclement weather.
Nissan plans demonstrations of the LEAF to Home prototype at dealerships throughout Japan starting next month. These dealership demonstrations are intended for new consumers who are unfamiliar with plug-in vehicles and home charging. Nissan and Nichicon want to sell 10,000 units by mid-2013, which requires significant marketing and public education this summer.
The LEAF to Home system is available to all Nissan LEAF owners in Japan with an estimated price of $7,928 including installation, charging station and taxes. This estimated price includes discounts offered by the Japanese government for green vehicle technologies.
Nissan and Nichicon have demonstrated that the development of plug-in vehicles means little without changes to the energy supply chain. Consumers need to be mindful of how electricity is generated as coal-powered generation is quite common in North America. The presentation of LEAF to Home in Japan is especially poignant given the debate over nuclear power in the wake of last year’s disaster. We also need to be aware of the infrastructure required for broader EV adoption throughout the world. The LEAF to Home system would allow a family to decrease energy consumption by eliminating the barrier between household and vehicle power.