Drawing on experience gained in the aftermath of the March earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of eastern Japan, Toyota will introduce a 1.5kW power supply option for the Japan-market Prius within about half a year, and will expand the option to other hybrids in the near future.
The decision was spurred by feedback from Toyota Estima HV hybrid owners, who used the vehicle’s existing onboard power supply system to charge mobile phones and maintain communication during the extended blackouts that followed the earthquake. The Estima is a minivan that Toyota currently produces exclusively for its domestic market.
Toyota will donate and retrofit the power supply system to about 40 Prius hybrids owned by the Tohoku Prefecture. The system can provide power to a Japanese household for about two days on a full tank of fuel, according to the company.
Last year, Toyota announced an advanced household energy management system that integrated prototype Prius plug-in hybrids with smart grid-capable homes designed and constructed by Toyota Housing Corporation (earlier post).