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Honda's Power Exporter 9000 turns your electric car into the ultimate portable generator

Modern electric and fuel cell cars can store a huge amount of electricity. Honda's Power Exporter 9000 lets you use it for something other than getting around.

Tim Stevens/CNET

TOKYO -- If you live in a place where power outages are a common thing, you're probably familiar with Honda generators. The company has been making them since 1964 and, along the way, has become one of the leading global sources for little motors in boxes that give you electricity when and where you need it most.

Now, the company is applying that expertise in a new way: turning electric vehicles (EVs) into the ultimate portable generators. The idea seems simple on the outside: EVs are very dense sources of electricity, whether they keep it in battery packs or hydrogen fuel cells. Wouldn't it be nice if you could tap into that electricity for other uses?

That's exactly what the Power Exporter 9000 does. This box, making its global debut here at Japan's CEATEC show, plugs into electric cars via the Chademo standard plug, which is typically used to provide fast DC charging on Japan's EVs. But, instead of providing DC, it actually takes it out, converting it into the AC power that your home devices can use. Because it uses this standard, it can actually work with any EV that supports Chademo.

And how much power are we talking? A Honda representative that, were you to plug the Exporter 9000 into Honda's fuel cell-powered FCV Concept cars, you can get 9kW of electricity out for a solid week. That's more than enough to power a house.

Honda isn't indicating how much this device will cost, but it will be made available along with the production version of Honda's fuel cell car, expected to launch in early 2016. In fact, the company is planning package deals including both the car and the Power Exporter, which could be ideal for anyone who plans to take the thing camping.