Electric vehicle drivers in New York and New Jersey have been able to avoid some of the post-superstorm Sandy apocalypse – waiting in long lines just to find out the station is out of gasoline.

Tom Moloughney, owner of the Nauna's Bella Casa restaurant in Montclair, NJ, and an all-electric BMW ActiveE, doesn't mind his 100-mile daily round trip to his home in Chester, NJ. In the storm's aftermath he witnessed something like a scene from The Walking Dead, where 100 people ran down a street in Montclair. They carried gas cans and heard there had been a gas station a half-mile way that had received a fuel delivery.

Like many of the locals, Moloughney's neighborhood was blacked out by trees taking out power lines. With home charging temporarily unavailable, he would use a public charging station nearby that still had power. He also used a 110-volt charger at home powered by a natural-gas generator. Gas stations have been hard hit by running out of gasoline and power failures turning off the gas pumps.

Moloughney also charged up at his restaurant, which has three 240-volt chargers installed for customers. One problem he couldn't avoid was his restaurant's delivery drivers running out of gas, suspending home deliveries.

For Frank Streng, a Nissan Leaf owner who lives in Cortlandt Manor, NY, and works in White Plains, NY, charging his 60-mile roundtrip at a White Plains train station has been the most viable option. Without power or a generator at his house, Streng has had to access the train station charger a couple blocks from his office. He would prefer charging at home, but that was taken away from him. The White Plains site cost him $10 for an all-day charge. "The best deal is when you're charging at home," Streng said. "It's pennies."

For Manhattan resident and Tesla Roadster owner Nicky Dawda, the storm's aftermath proved that knowing where the best Midtown and Lower Manhattan charging stations are based was a benefit. Dawda had less trouble getting electricity in blacked-out lower Manhattan than most New Yorkers had getting gas.

EV battery packs offer another post-disaster remedy – vehicle-to-home (V2H) and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) energy storage. In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami last year in Japan, Mitsubishi used 15 of its i-MiEV electric vehicles as an emergency power supply at its headquarters after the blackouts. Electric vehicles are proving their benefits for mobility and storage capacity following inclement weather.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      Actionable Mango
      • 6 Days Ago
      I wish PHEV cars could work in reverse and use their batteries and/or generator to power a house during an outage. I saw that in a Leaf commercial, but it was a Japan-only feature. I know some hybrid pickup trucks can do that, but I really don't want to drive around a construction vehicle. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV touts that as a feature, but I have a feeling that the feature will be Japan-only.
        Ele Truk
        • 6 Days Ago
        @Actionable Mango
        I would like to see AC out as a standard design consideration. After all, the inverter is already in the vehicle. Just have an option to output to an AC outlet instead of to the motor.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 6 Days Ago
      Likewise, there are many stories about the telecoms' fuel cell back up systems running perfectly when the grid was knocked out by the storm, enabling telecommunications device to operate uninterrupted. Similarly, many schools, hospitals, and government buildings that had back up fuel cell power were able to remain operational even after the grid connection was lost.
      Tom Moloughney
      • 6 Days Ago
      As mentioned above, it's been pretty crazy here for the past nine days. I just did a blog post on driving electric after the storm for anyone interested: http://activeemobility.blogspot.com/2012/11/disaster-relief.html
        Dave D
        • 6 Days Ago
        @Tom Moloughney
        Wow, great to hear your family and friends are ok, Tom. Really sad to see what it is doing to the region and to those who lost someone. Very interesting post and as you look at it, you have to wonder: If this were to get around to the right crowd, we might possibly see the survivalist crowd start to think of EVs/PHEVs as some type of "must have" tool along with their dried food, shelter, generators....and guns. It would be really interesting to see the "you can take my EV when you pry it off my cold, dead butt" stickers. :-)
        GR
        • 6 Days Ago
        @Tom Moloughney
        Great story Tom! Thanks for sharing and glad your family is safe!
        Letstakeawalk
        • 6 Days Ago
        @Tom Moloughney
        Great article. I'm glad to see you had invested in a natural gas generator to keep your homestead up and running! Natural gas lines are generally some of the best-protected energy infrastructure that we have, being located deep underground. As I wrote, the natural gas fuel cells used as back up systems provided clean power (even cleaner than your natgas ICE!) that was vital.
      • 6 Days Ago
      My Volt helped me survive 8 days with no power after Sandy. I was able to run an inverter out of the lighter adapter and provide power to a power strip I ran into my bedroom. I powered my CPAP Machine (which is why i had an inverter), a light, and was able to charge my electronics. The first two nights I was able to get by on existing battery charge (the night of the storm I kept the car in the garage and then pulled out into the driveway). The next nights the gas kicked in to keep the battery charged a few mins each hour. After a full night of use I saw just a 20 mile drop on gas range (so about half a gallon of gas). It was pretty amazing. This should be an advertised feature!
      Dave D
      • 6 Days Ago
      Come on guys, you must be lying...Rush Limbaugh said so! These Electrics are a total disaster after storms...and I believe everything Rush says :-)