The auxiliary-power systems on their Toyota Estima and Alphard hybrid-electric minivans provided valuable help for many Japanese survivors of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Some versions of the hybrids come standard with converters that switch direct current from the battery to 100V alternating current capable of running small household appliances such as rice cookers, water heaters, microwave ovens and hair dryers. “Pre-earthquake, the main appeal was to power appliances while ...

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