The Nissan RE-LEAF prototype is one of the few prototypes I desperately wish was a real thing.
This prototype is based on the Nissan Leaf passenger car, but it’s outfitted with all the stuff you’d need to transform it into a mobile disaster response unit: a jackhammer, a pressure ventilation fan, a medical ventilator, a 100-watt LED floodlight, and a 10-litre soup kettle. The back hatch opens up to reveal a monitor and keyboard you can use to keep tabs on, say, weather or reports of injury.
It’s a neat concept. It’s designed with a noble cause in mind. Selfishly, I want one as my daily driver.
No, I do not have a need for a jackhammer or a medical ventilator. I do not need a big floodlight. I would, however, love to have a small but hardy electric car for personal purposes, most of which include “travelling without ever having to interact with another human being.” I’m growing ever more interested in the concept of making my own lunch on the road and not having to stop for McDonald’s.
That is absolutely not the purpose of the RE-LEAF. Nissan said it’s reimagining emergency response with this car in a way that can provide power and aid to communities that have suffered a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or something else. I mean, this prototype would have the capacity to not only be charged but to charge something else. The RE-LEAF has enough power to keep the average European home functioning for six days. That’s a pretty big deal if you’ve ever found yourself without electricity for days at a time.
So, no, this car is not a real model, and I will not be acquiring an absurdly outfitted Nissan for my own personal use. But we could very well start seeing these kinds of machines providing portable aid to communities in need. Nissan has been using Leafs to assist with emergencies since 2011. It might be time to start exploring the opportunities here