Toyota to offer optional AC outlets on Japan-market Priuses

Toyota will begin offering AC outlets on JDM Priuses after victims of the March 11 earthquake used hybrid vehicles as emergency power sources.

The Toyota Prius will offer AC outlets for its domestic market next year, allowing customers to plug in various household appliances. The idea arose from the March 11 earthquake when victims were using a Japan-only minivan called the Toyota Estima as an emergency power source when the electric supply was disrupted. The Estima comes standard with AC outlets.

Toyota plans to offer AC outlets in the Prius and eventually the entire hybrid lineup, but for now, they will only appear on JDM models. The varying regulations concerning voltage in different countries will prevent Toyota from equipping all models worldwide with them, at least for now. The standard Japan household voltage rating is 100 volts, and a vehicle equipped with the AC outlet will have an onboard inverter to transform the DC current from nickel-metal hydride batteries in hybrid Toyotas into AC current.

Toyota did a demonstration with an AC-outlet-equipped Prius earlier today in the hard-hit city of Sendai, powering a fan, portable cooking stove, table lamp, and a refrigerator all on the same car. Toyota says that the hybrid batteries offer a substantial wattage advantage over a conventional gasoline car's battery, putting out up to 1,500 watts. Coupled with the gasoline engine to help charge the batteries, a Prius will a full tank of gas could supply that output for about two days.

Source: Automotive News

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