Power from electric vehicles keeps the lifts moving after power outages

Nissan has teamed up with Hitachi to test using power stored in electric vehicle batteries to keep elevators running during power outages in Japan, particularly from earthquakes.

Japan has the most earthquakes of any country on earth, around 1,500(Opens in a new window) a year due to being located in a particularly active seismic volcanic region called the Pacific Ring of Fire. When these events take out the local power grid, electric cars provide a mobile network that can keep critical systems on.

Using electricity from an electric car is called two-way charging (or vehicle-to-grid, vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-everything). In this case, it is a vehicle for a lift.

During a recent pilot project first reported(Opens in a new window) by Reuters Nissan and Hitachi successfully tested keeping an elevator at full capacity (nine people) at low speed for 10 hours. The power came solely from the battery of an all-electric vehicle called a Nissan Sakura.

Tatsunori Takahashi, director of Hitachi Building Systems, says he intends to begin supplying the system to apartment buildings in Japan starting in April 2023.

Nissan Sakura EV (Credit: Nissan)

The Sakura is considered a “micro” EV, with just 112 miles of range, according to it(Opens in a new window) to AutoWeek, but it’s designed to work with a variety of EVs, including larger ones like the sub-$40,000 Nissan Leaf. Relatively few vehicles on the market have two-way charging, but they are some of the most popular ones, like the Ford F-150 Lightning and Hyundai Ioniq 5.

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Car manufacturers and local governments in the US have had similar discussions(Opens in a new window) use electric cars to keep power available during emergencies like the Texas blackouts in February 2021. Major automakers like GM have already announced plans to develop systems where electric car owners can power their homes and sell excess power back to the grid for cash.

However, to adopt this particular system for the US market, it must work with a different type of charging port more commonly found on US electric vehicles. Most Japanese-built electric cars, such as Nissans, have the CHAdeMO charging port type, which is also found on some cars in the US. But the CCS port and Tesla’s proprietary port are much more common on newer vehicles and are quickly replacing CHAdeMO as the US standard. (See our charging port explanation for more information.)

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