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PHOTO CAPTION: Mitsubishi i-MiEV similar to those operating in disaster zones where gasoline is unavailable.

Electric Cars Come to the Rescue in Japan

Surprisingly, it's the Mitsubishi iMiEV and Nissan LEAF that are proving their mettle in providing vital transport services in earthquake/tsunami ravaged parts of Japan.

Published: 08-May-2011

WITH deep-tread tires and ample ground clearance, a rugged 4-wheel-drive Hummer or Jeep might seem the best choice for navigating through the wrecked cities of northeastern Japan. The areas pummeled by the earthquake and tsunami in March would surely be inhospitable for an electric vehicle.

Yet in the days and weeks after the horrific one-two punch of natural disasters, wispy battery-electric cars — engineered for lightness and equipped with tires designed for minimal rolling resistance — proved their mettle.

These welterweight sedans, including models from Mitsubishi and Nissan, turned out to be the vehicles that got through — not because of any special ability to claw their way over mountains of debris, but because they were able to “refuel” at common electrical outlets.

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