Four of the largest Japanese car manufacturers have teamed up to develop a major extension of the country’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Mitsubishi yesterday announced they will promote the installation of chargers at a wide range of locations, including shopping malls, restaurants, and motorway service station, as well as the roll out of rapid chargers at locations that are suited for shorter stops, such as convenience stores and petrol stations.
The companies also pledged to promote charger installation by bearing part of the costs, assisted by 100.5 billion Yen (£666m) of government subsidies, for a temporary period.
In addition, they said they would work with companies that are already providing charging services, in which each of the four automakers already have a financial stake, to create a more joined-up network and payment process.
“Previously, each automaker assessed possible locations for charging facilities on their own,” a joint statement said. “Now, they have agreed to work jointly under the common understanding that the charging infrastructure has public value and that enhancing it should be done quickly during the limited period that the subsidies are available.”
There are currently around 1,700 quick chargers and just over 3,000 normal chargers in Japan, but the companies said studies are underway to increase the number of normal chargers by 8,000 and quick chargers by 4,000.
The move will undoubtedly help sales of the companies’ pure electric and plug-in hybrid models, which include the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi iMiEV, and Toyota plug-in Prius.
In the absence of significant government support for charging networks and faced with relatively slow take-up for new electric vehicles, car makers are starting to take matters into their own hands.
The Japanese collaboration follows BMW’s five year partnership deal with Charge-master to establish ChargeNow, a public charging network for owners of its BMW i electric range across the UK.
It also comes as British Gas continues to build on its partnership with Mitsubishi to accelerate the roll out of domestic chargers, which comes ahead of the expected release of the new Outlander plug-in hybrid at the end of 2013.
Andreas Atkins, head of electric vehicle services at British Gas, said its offer of charging points to customers was “a milestone for the UK’s electric vehicle market”.