Nissan just opened its futuristic new Pavilion exhibition near its headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, and it’s inaugurating the facility with what it says is a global first: Visitors can use their electric vehicles to discharge electricity back to the building in lieu of paying for parking.
It’s a demonstration of the Nissan Energy Share system, which enables EVs to charge their batteries, power homes or buildings, or feed energy back into the grid, effectively turning vehicle batteries into mobile energy storage devices. Nissan last year said that Leaf models already on the roads globally contain more than 10 gigawatt-hours of combined energy storage potential.
Originally targeted to open during the 2020 Summer Olympics in neighboring Tokyo, which were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Pavilion is Nissan’s 32,800 square-foot, zero-emission exhibit to innovation and mobility. It’s powered by its own solar panels and hydroelectric energy, and it houses interactive exhibits on Nissan’s ProPilot driver-assist technology, connected car systems, Formula E simulations and other exhibits. It also houses the Chaya Cafe, which highlights local and sustainably grown produce, and which runs on electricity supplied by Leaf batteries charged by solar panels on the Pavilion’s roof. The facility will also serve as a location for future product reveals.
“The Pavilion is a place where customers can see, feel, and be inspired by our near-future vision for society and mobility,” Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida said in a statement. “As the world shifts to electric mobility, EVs will be integrated into society in ways that go beyond just transportation.”
It’s not the first practical application of Nissan’s bidirectional charging technology, versions of which Nissan has touted since the battery-electric Leaf first arrived in 2010. In 2018, the company announced a pilot program to use the Leaf to power buildings at its Franklin, Tennessee headquarters and design center in San Diego during peak energy demand times. Last year, the company said a similar trial using power from Leaf batteries and solar-paneled carports in Japan resulted in a 14.1 kilowatt-hour reduction in energy use over a 30-minute interval. It has conducted similar pilots in Europe.
What’s really interesting to think about is the possibility of cities one day offering up a similar system in which EV drivers could forgo feeding a parking meter or paying to park in a structure if they agree to send some juice back into the grid from their cars. While Nissan’s current offer doesn’t appear to be limited to Leaf owners, an EV would have to feature CHAdeMO fast-charging capability in order to work with the bidirectional charging system.
The Nissan Pavilion opened to the public on Wednesday and will remain open through Oct. 23.