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05-08-11, 06:44 PM #1
Electric cars played critical role in Japan's recovery from earthquake that disrupted gasoline suppliesThese 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.
With oil refineries out of commission and clogged roadways slowing deliveries, finding gasoline had become a challenge. Shortages were so acute that Japan’s Self-Defense Forces had to truck in gasoline; donations of diesel fuel were accepted from China.
Yet in Sendai, about 250 miles northeast of Tokyo, and other cities ravaged by the earthquake, electricity returned within days. Taking stock of the situation, the president of Mitsubishi Motors, Osamu Masuko, offered dozens of his company’s egg-shaped i-MiEV (pronounced “eye-meeve”) electric cars to affected cities.
Despite their image as light-duty runabouts best suited for trips to a nearby shopping mall, the electric vehicles were immediately put to use. They were pressed into service ferrying supplies to refugee centers, schools and hospitals, and taking doctors, city workers and volunteers on their rounds.
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