Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation will work together to promote the installation of chargers for electric-powered vehicles and build a charging network service that offers more convenience to drivers in Japan.
The move is in recognition of the critical need to swiftly develop charging infrastructure facilities to promote the use of electric-powered vehicles. 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.
At present, there are about 1,700 quick chargers and just over 3,000 normal chargers in Japan, which is generally recognized to be insufficient. In addition, the lack of sufficient coordination among existing charging providers needs improving to offer a better service to customers. The government announced subsidies for installation of charging facilities totalling 100.5 billion yen as part of its economic policy for fiscal year 2013.
With this strong support, the four automakers will work together to install the chargers. Previously, each automaker assessed possible locations for charging facilities on their own. 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.
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, DIY stores and family restaurants for the return trip home; and en-route charging at locations including expressway roadside service areas, roadside stations (michi no eki), 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.
Studies are already 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 (e.g. large shopping malls, do-it-yourself stores and family restaurants), which are destination charging spots or en-route charging spots with longer duration stops (e.g. highway service areas and roadside stations) when a vehicle could be charged. Quick chargers are to be installed at en-route charging spots for shorter-durations stops (e.g. highway parking areas, convenience stores and gas stations).
The 4 companies will collaborate with the current charging providers: Japan Charge Network Co., Ltd., Charging Network Development, llc and Toyota Media Service to create a more cohesive and convenient charging infrastructure network. One example is enabling the car's owner to charge his or her car at any charging spot with the same card.
The 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 percent of new car sales in 2020 - The joint venture will work towards achieving this.