Nissan has introduced a concept disaster response electric vehicle which they’ve aptly named, the Nissan Re-Leaf. Based on the ever-popular Nissan LEAF, this EV was specially designed to deliver mobile electricity to a disaster zone and packs a serious punch. Whether it’s a natural disaster, unplanned power outage or extended load shedding, the Nissan Re-Leaf prototype can help save lives by powering essential equipment.
How Does The Nissan Re-Leaf Work?
The Nissan Re-Leaf concept electric vehicle is not a 4×4 but they’ve added structural changes which makes it an extremely capable off-roader that can deliver emergency power almost anywhere. This mobile power plant on wheels can be deployed in no time to bring relief in the event of natural disasters, extreme weather event or nearly any other emergency scenario that requires additional power.
If the concept sounds impressive, wait until you see what they’ve achieved in design and implementation. The Nissan Re-Leaf is 70 mm higher (225mm ground clearance) and gets mud flaps, all-terrain tyres and 17-inch wheels. There are also newly designed custom wheel arches to accommodate the wider track which is 90 mm in the front and 130 mm at the rear. They’ve added a skid plate underneath to protect the important bits and an LED light bar with amber flashes on the front.
The Nissan Re-Leaf is a fully-loaded Nissan Leaf but with the latest technology. It includes a 62kWh battery that provides enough power to run the average (European) home for six days. It could act as the operations hub thanks to the inclusion of a pull-out desk, 32-inch LED screen and a dedicated power supply in the boot.
Nissan Re-Leaf Provides Mobile Electricity Without Noise Or Pollution
Using the car as a mobile battery pack, the Nissan Re-Leaf concept allows immediate deployment of power without noise pollution or emissions from traditional petrol or diesel generators. It is particularly useful when emergency workers need to listen out for survivors calling out for help. Some generators can cause vibrations which may be a cause for concern whereas this electric mobile power source is far quieter and safer as a result.
According to Nissan, the 62kWh battery can simultaneously power medical, communications, lighting, heating and other life-supporting equipment. In one example, this included an electric jackhammer, a ventilation fan, a 10-litre potbelly soup kettle, a ventilator for the ICU and a 100w LED floodlight for 24 hours.
It can do this due to several weatherproof plug sockets mounted on the outside of the Nissan Re-Leaf and its capability of providing bi-directional power flow. While it’s still a prototype, the Nissan Re-Leaf does work as intended where Japan has already been using the Nissan Leaf’s bidirectional charging abilities to supply power to disaster zones since 2011.
“Electric vehicles are emerging as one of the technologies that can improve resilience in the power sector,” says Helen Perry, head of electric passenger cars and infrastructure at Nissan Europe.
“By having thousands of EVs available on standby, either as disaster support vehicles or plugged into the network through Vehicle-to-Grid, they’re uniquely capable of creating a virtual power plant to maintain a supply of energy.”
How EVs Can Help Ease Pressure On The Power Grid
Natural disasters are one of the biggest causes of power outages as indicated in a 2019 report from the World Bank. They found that natural shocks and climate change caused 37% of outages in Europe between 2000 and 2017, and 44% of outages in America over the same period.
When a disaster hits in a developed country, it usually takes about 24 to 48 hours to restore electricity supply depending on the damage. During this time, EVs can provide much-needed zero-emission mobile emergency power.
These EVs can create a distributable energy model that can be used to help stabilize supply and demand. As mentioned earlier, the Nissan Re-Leaf uses bidirectional charging ability which is a standard feature of the Nissan Leaf since its introduction in 2010. This means the car can “pull” power to recharge the high-capacity battery while also “pushing” it back into the grid through V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) technology. It can also do the same directly to electric devices through V2X (Vehicle-to-everything).
Nissan EVs can also act as mobile storage batteries to supply homes and communities with electricity during non-emergency situations. This may be a game-changer in South Africa if it gets implemented and load shedding continues. It may not be any time soon but maybe we will see a Nissan Re-Leaf in South Africa to provide much-needed support in some of the many struggling areas.
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