Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi in pact to develop charging infrastructure for EVs

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation have unveiled plans to work together to promote the installation of chargers for electric powered vehicles and build a charging network service in Japan to promote the use of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHV); plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), electric vehicles (EV).

Assisted by subsidies provided by the Japanese government, the four automakers will bear part of the cost to install the charging facilities.

They will also work together to build a convenient and accessible charging network in collaboration with companies that are already providing charging services in which each of the four automakers already have a financial stake.

Based on data from the four car makers, there are an estimated 1,700 quick chargers and just over 3,000 normal chargers in Japan.

Not only is this recognised to be insufficient, the development of charging facilities is compounded by lack of sufficient coordination among existing charging providers.

The Japanese government has announced subsidies totalling 100.5 billion (a little over $1 billion) for installation charging facilities as part of its economic policy for fiscal year 2013 to quickly develop the charging infrastructure and expand the use of electric-powered vehicles using alternative energy sources.

"Currently, each prefecture in Japan is drawing up a vision for the use of the subsidies. With this strong support, the four automakers will work together
to install the chargers," a joint statement said.

Till now, each automaker assessed possible locations for charging facilities on their own. Now, they  will work jointly to boost recharging facilities during the limited period that the subsidies are available.

Currently, there are three charging methods for electric-powered vehicles - basic charging, where a car is charged at private homes or condominiums; destination charging, where a car is charged at locations such as shopping malls, do-it-yourself (DIY) stores and family restaurants for the return trip home; and en-route charging at locations including expressway roadside service areas, roadside stations, gas stations, and convenience stores.

In both destination and en-route charging, normal charging is suitable for longer-duration stops, while quick charging is appropriate for shorter stops.

In terms of utility, PHVs and PHEVs would benefit from an expanded charging network as it would maximise their driving performance and combined fuel economy.

Under the agreement, the four companies will launch a joint project to:

  1. Promote installation of chargers in Japan (Studies are underway to increase the number of normal chargers by 8,000 and quick chargers by 4,000. Normal chargers could be installed in commercial facilities at destination charging spots like like large shopping malls, DIY stores and family restaurants or en-route charging spots with longer duration stops suchgas highway service areas and roadside stations when a vehicle could be charged. Quick chargers would be installed at en-route charging spots for shorter duration stops such as highway parking areas, convenience stores and gas stations.)
  2. Promote charger installation by temporarily bearing part of the installation and maintenance costs
  3. Build a charging infrastructure network which enables customers to use their PHVs, PHEVs and EVs more conveniently Collaboration among companies currently providing charging services in which each automaker has already invested include Japan Charge Network Co., Ltd., Charging Network Development, llc, and Toyota Media Service. The pact between the four car makers would lead to the creation of a more convenient charging infrastructure network and common credit card payment facilities.
  4. Work with government agencies and local governments (The Japanese government aims to expand the use of the next-generation of these vehicles and have PHVs, PHEVs and EVs achieve a ratio of 15 to 20 per cent of new car sales in 2020.)