Everyone's looking for an edge in the electric vehicle wars, and Nissan might have one. It's working on a system that would allow Leaf owners to use the car to supply electricity to their houses during power outages.
Lots of people buy generators for that purpose, but Hideaki Watanabe, head of Nissan's Global Zero Emissions Business unit, says his EV could handle the job.
The Leaf's battery can store 24 kilowatt hours of electricity, equal to about a day's worth of energy use in a normal U.S. household.
"In case of blackouts we can utilize that," Watanabe said. "In Japan, some people say instead of installing a generator they'll just buy a Leaf. As of today we don't have a function to discharge, but we are looking into that."
Watanabe is pushing his engineers to look for ways to reverse the flow of energy.
"I want it ASAP -- at least I would like to see some concrete proposal by the end of the year," he said. "I want a prototype."
Watanabe said Nissan could use the CHAdeMO DC fast-charging system backed by most Japan automakers because the technology can detect electricity leaks.
"It already has a very good safety device for when you discharge electricity from the car to the house," he said. "I'm not saying I'm going to use the CHAdeMO, but it has very high potential."