Next year, Toyota will start offering Prius hybrid electric vehicles that enable you to take advantage of the energy storage capacity of its batteries by plugging household appliances into it. In other words, you can use the car to power household appliances with the outlet it has. There is a catch though. It will be available in Japan only for now due to voltage compatibility issues.
Using hybrid vehicles as a backup power for household appliances may end up replacing backup generators. It will also make Prius hybrids a more attractive choice for camping expeditions. The idea came from Toyota observing people using their Toyota Estima hybrid van as an emergency source of power in the immediate aftermath of the March earthquake and tsunami disaster. While a normal 12v car battery can provide power for a limited amount of time, the much larger batteries of a hybrid vehicle could power a makeshift camp, able to deliver up to 1,500 watts of constant power. With a full tank of gas, that is enough for about two days worth of power…depending on how much you have plugged in.
Using the car battery bank to power household appliances or even back up intermittent energy sources are good ways to get more out of the batteries for your money, and provides a nice safety net should your local power supplier go dark. Toyota will likely make this an option on American cars in coming years, giving hybrid vehicles an extra dose of versatility for potential owners.