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Lights out, car on: DoD exploring EVs as a source of emergency power

With the huge amount of news stories coming out during hurricane Sandy, it’s quite possible that a few important ones about the usefulness of electric cars slipped past unnoticed. Apparently during the disaster a number of owners of electric cars were using the batteries to power important home appliances, like refrigerators, while waiting for power to be restored in the wake of the storm. It’s a simple modification to make the power flow the other way in such situations, and Nissan even sells a kit with the Leaf in the Japanese market for owners who want such an option. The amount of electricity needed to power a fridge or coffee maker is tiny when compared to what is needed to move an entire car, and in most cases, an EV battery can keep essential home functions running for three or four days.

Stories like these have piqued the interest of the Department of Defense. There was already a fair amount of interest in EVs, since the fuel savings for vehicles used on bases alone could potentially be significant if a large enough switch to electric cars was made. But now the DoD is interested for another reason, emergency power. Bases obviously tend to already have generators for emergency power, but now Green Car Reports says that the DoD is looking to incorporate solar panels and EVs to their emergency plans as a means to save fuel. The plan makes a lot of sense, especially if the bases were to already have a bunch of EVs sitting around anyway. The DoD will conduct a trial run which is said to start in August and run for one year.

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