Nissan has taken part in a wide range of relief activities since immediately after the Tohoku earthquake. One that was particularly well suited to Nissan's capabilities was a project that used Nissan vehicles to bring assistance to people in the disaster areas.
A gasoline shortage in the weeks after the disaster had serious consequences for emergency relief and left many people cut off from medical treatment. The Nissan LEAF played a vital role in this context. Nissan donated vehicles to a clinic in Sendai and made more rental cars available free of charge to local government offices. As of March 23, 2011, a total of 65 vehicles were providing much-needed mobility to people in the affected areas.
In coastal regions of Tohoku, the damage caused by the tsunami was so devastating that many places were rendered inaccessible by regular vehicles. Nissan donated 50 Nissan Patrol jeeps (Y61 series) to United Nations groups and nonprofit organizations. The Nissan Car Rental Solutions Co. also loaned seven vehicles free of charge, including Nissan Elgrand MPVs, to help with initial damage assessments carried out by NPOs. Nissan will continue to put the company's unique capabilities to use by contributing to relief activities suited to the needs of affected areas.
Nissan has played an active role in relief operations following major natural disasters around the world. Most of the UN organizations and NGO offices in Japan are not set up to carry out emergency relief in Japan itself; they lacked the equipment and machinery to respond following the Tohoku disaster. Vehicles were no exception. In the aftermath of the disaster it was very difficult to get hold of the vital means of transportation for getting relief efforts moving, including rental vehicles.
As the unimaginable extent of the devastation became clear, Nissan decided on March 16 to donate 50 Patrol vehicles.
One of the recipient organizations was World Vision Japan, which used the vehicles in relief activities that included distributing aid supplies, transporting children to school, and providing emotional support. Seven Nissan Patrols arrived on April 18, their 135-liter tanks already filled so that the vehicles could be used right away to provide assistance where it was needed.
"In many areas nails and glass were still strewn across the roads, presenting a real risk of punctures and other problems with regular cars," says Ikuko Imamura of World Vision Japan. "Another benefit of the Patrols, which are no longer marketed in Japan, was the attention the cars attracted wherever they went. Local men would crowd around for a closer look whenever our team pulled up in a village or town. This helped to break the ice and was a real boon in terms of communication." Nissan Patrols helped the organization to distribute emergency aid to 100,000 people in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures.
Itaru Terashima of Nissan Trading, which was in charge of coordinating arrangements with recipient organizations, says the experience provided a vivid reminder of the potential of Nissan's vehicles in a disaster situation. "Nissan is in an ideal position to help in a variety of situations. The ability to supply electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF in areas where there is not enough fuel, and four-wheel drive vehicles like the Patrol in places without decent roads and other infrastructure, was vital in terms of helping aid workers respond to the needs of each local community."