Nissan has sold more than 350,000 Leafs since the car debuted in 2011, and as they’ve aged, the company has thrown around a lot of ideas about how to recycle their batteries. The latest idea: a smart pop-up camper powered by old Leaf battery cells.
The camper concept was developed in partnership with off-road camping manufacturer Opus. The Leaf-powered pack in the concept camper stores just 700wH, and has a maximum output of 1kW — a small slice of a typical Leaf battery, but still plenty to power all the electronics in the camper for a few days, including multiple USB sockets, LED lighting, a 4G hotspot, as well as the included portable microwave, dual-burner gas stove, and fridge. A 400W solar panel can recharge the battery pack in two to four hours, according to Nissan. But the pack can also be removed and plugged directly into any 230V outlet.
Since it’s just a concept, it’s not clear if Nissan and Opus’ collaboration will ever make it to market. But outdoor adventurers are clearly a customer base the Japanese automaker wants to explore. Just last year, the company showed off a limited-release electric camper van with a range of 124 miles.
This is not the first time Nissan has publicly tossed around an idea about what it should do with EV batteries as they start to fall off the proverbial cliff. The company has previously tested using them to power LED street lights, tinkered with a trade-in program, and laid out plans to recycle batteries outright at a factory near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that failed in 2011. Other automakers are thinking up their own clever solutions, too, like Toyota, which is using recycled Prius batteries to run 7-Elevens in Japan.