Thought of the Day: Mandatory Emergency Backup Power Solutions for Electric Cars

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, as yet another winter storm prepares to march across North America, we’re asking if electric vehicle manufacturers should be required to build in backup mains power inverters for their cars so that, in the event of a natural disaster or winter storm, owners can use their electric cars as emergency backup power supplies to keep themselves safe, warm and in contact with the outside world.

In Japan, many electric cars come from the factory with just such an option, but in Europe and North America, it’s something of an unknown.

Is it time to change that, and if so, what should automakers be required to fit to their cars to make them disaster ready?

Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInDigg thisShare on RedditEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest

Related News

  • Martin Lacey

    Emergency use makes sense.

    But adding this topic to yesterdays conversation: What’s to stop Free for Life Tesla owners (FOR EXAMPLE) free charging and using that power every night?

    • Matt Beard

      Good point… but all new Teslas are NOT free-for-life and this would apply to new vehicles only.

    • …Because those would be cars that would be grandfathered. Also, it would be incredibly inefficient to drive somewhere, charge, go home.

      You’d basically have to be homeless for that to be a good idea.

  • Matt Beard

    You really need two things for this to work:
    1) A way to get DC electricity (at a decent level) from the car when required.
    2) A reasonably good, reasonably powerful inverter to convert that to AC.

    Number 1 would have to be part of the car and is already part of CHAdeMO (hence the Leaf system) but number 2 could be external. In fact I would argue that the inverter should be optional, but available for all CHAdeMO and CCS vehicles. They would be available in various capacities and voltages and probably different quality waveforms too.

    So, I would say that my answer is that certain areas (such as Japan and other locations where major disasters or power-outages are more common) should mandate DC sockets capable of driving at least one make/model of inverter unit that is available to purchase in that area. There should not be a requirement to have AC outlets in the vehicle.

  • Albemarle

    I think the idea of getting emergency power from your EV is a good one. You could require the CCS plug to be bi-directional. I wouldn’t expect that to be too onerous or expensive. Then the homeowner could purchase a proper DC to AC inverter and have it wired into their home if they wished.

    To go further than that, will place an unnecessary burden on the manufacturers. Why not make cars able to ford 1m deep water in case of flooded roads? Then there is emergency flying, of course. And, in the U. S. for all those Second Amendment solution people, AK47 bulletproofing should be required.

    • Jeff Laurence

      Simply making the CCS plug “bi-directional” would fry many home charging stations and probably be a significant safety hazard. I like the bulletproofing idea however.

  • Jeff Laurence

    Great idea but added expense is a concern. The ability to supply power from a female port on the car would be a good first step. The external inverter could then be an option for the EV owner to choose and thus keep the cost relatively low for the EV. Having power available at the charging port is useful only if the home charging station is capable of inverting the power back to the house circuitry. As always care must be taken to isolate the house power from the grid by turning off the main breaker.

  • I’ve been toying with an idea of putting an UPS in my car to power the accessories instead of draining the main supply. In my prior car I’d powered them with a solar panel – a 12W panel gave me an average of 1 MPG in my conventional vehicle, just because it never had to apply the alternator heavily.