Over the last few months Japan has been left behind in the headlines with regards to the electric vehicle industry and EV charging facilities. However the authorities have certainly pulled out their trump card with the announcement that $1 billion in subsidies is being put aside for the fiscal year 2013 to encourage the installation of new EV charging stations across the country.
While this in itself is a major step forward for the Japanese electric vehicle industry, there is actually more good news than you could ever dream of!
New partnership deals emerge
Despite the fact that the automobile industry in Japan is one of the most competitive in the world, it has been confirmed that Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi are going to work together to install a further 5000 regular charging stations and 2300 of the more advanced faster charging facilities. The country currently has 3000 traditional charging stations and 1700 of the faster variety which is nowhere near enough for a country the size of Japan.
While the $1 billion in subsidy investment has been put aside by the Japanese government, it is not clear exactly how it will be spent. Each of the four automobile companies which form the partnership arrangement will receive an unspecified amount per station installation cost. They have also agreed to work together on suitable locations as opposed to working on their own agenda to cover areas more relevant to their own clientele. This will ensure that there is a more even spread of electric vehicle charging stations across Japan and will certainly instil yet more confidence into the sector.
One network one payment
In the U.S., for example, we are seeing the emergence of an array of independent EV charging station networks, which are not wholly compatible and have different memberships and different payment systems. The Japanese version of the countrywide charging network will incorporate a one membership, one payment system, which should make things much simpler for those looking to use these facilities.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "Each day seems to bring news of extended charging networks around the world, from the US to the UK, from Australia to China. Have you seen an increase in the number of charging stations in your area?"
The fact is that we need to make EV charging stations as convenient, as compatible and as efficient as they can be. By doing this the industry will take away one of the major elements which has held back development of the overall electric vehicle industry and continues to prey on the minds of many motorists, i.e. journey capacity.
Sales targets for the future
It is interesting to see that the Japanese authorities have a target for plug-in vehicles of between 15% and 20% of the new car market by 2020. This is certainly an ambitious target but it is one which is certainly making automobile companies think and if successful it could simply be a stepping stone to even greater market penetration.
One other interesting factor we have seen emerge over the last couple of weeks is that many U.S. EV manufacturers are now looking towards the Far East. We are starting to see signs of an integrated worldwide EV market which can only be good news for the industry, good news for governments and more importantly, good news for motorists.