Here at the Tokyo show, many car makers have moved onto the next stage of what they hope might be the Electric Vehicle revolution.
A number of domestic makers are now pushing the idea that you could use your electric car to power your house, or at least some of the equipment inside it.
Nissan had a small model showing how connecting the Leaf could be connected to a domestic power supply and Mitsubishi had constructed a full-size, mock-up, Tokyo apartment showing a MiEV powering the lamp and charging the iPad.
Aside from keeping the essentials running in the event of a power cut, the proposition is that an EV could be charged from, say, solar panels during the day, when it is parked up. The car could then be driven home and have enough free juice on board, not only to make the commute back to the office, but also power-up devices at the driver’s home.
Suzuki’s rather neat e-Lets electric scooter has a detachable Lithium-Ion battery pack – with a handy built-in handle – which is designed to be unclipped and brought inside to be charged in a special charger (which also prevents the scooter from being stolen). According to Suzuki, this battery pack has enough power, when fully charged, to keep a smart phone going for 140 hours, a 20W LED table lamp for 35 hours and a 40in LCD TV for between 3.5 and 7 hours.
In Europe, French electricity supplier EDF says it would like to see as many as 25 per cent of all cars in France as EVs in a decade’s time. By banning re-charging during the day, this huge number of battery-powered vehicles could then be charged overnight, neatly soaking up the surplus power generated by France’s nuclear power stations.
Clearly, integrating EVs into domestic life is the next step in making them more acceptable. However, the amount of infrastructure that is needed for these schemes – such as workplace solar charging, multiple public charging points, smart domestic appliances and a home electrical systems that can cope with the complexity of running off your EV’s battery – is not going to become widespread.
New houses are not being built to meet this future vision and it is clear that it will be a very long time before indebted Western governments have the spare cash to start building this brave new e-world.