The Times' Wheels blog highlights an interesting side effect of auto manufacturers' recent developments with electric cars: Their utility as a domestic source of emergency backup power. Companies have been working on this for years, but it's received little fanfare until lately, when with the tsunami in Japan and the more recent Hurricane Irene lit the proverbial fire under the proverbial asses.
The idea behind V2G, or Vehicle to Grid technology, is simple: Your houses loses power when the grid goes down, and then you plug the car into your house. Nissan and Mitsubishi are said to be accelerating the rollout of these systems, while Toyota currently has one in the market. A Japanese-market-only Toyota hybrid van already has a standard AC outlet in it that customers bereft of electricity plugged into after March's tsunami.
Toyota says they'll add the plug to Japanese-market-only Priuses for 2012, but has no plans to bring it to the 'States. Perhaps the results of Hurricane Irene will change their minds. In the meantime, the Times highlights a story they did on an American Prius owner who already hacked his Prius to power his house—way back in 2007.