Japanese automakers cooperating on EV charging, while US and Europeans are fighting?

The Japanese automakers have just announced a joint venture on charging infrastructure that points in a very good direction. The JV, Nippon Charge Service, LLC, is tasked with promoting “the installation of chargers for electric-powered vehicles (PHVs, PHEVs, EVs)” and “the installation of chargers, for the good of society and to expand the use of electric-powered vehicles.”

The idea is a breath of fresh air compared with what amounts to infighting between automakers in other parts of the world.

For the project of electric vehicle adoption to work well one big part of the puzzle is building out enough EV charging infrastructure to ease the worries of potential electric car buyers.

We’ve long described the electric car buying quandary as a chicken-and-egg scenario.  Car buyers will be reluctant to by EV’s until there’s enough infrastructure, and the infrastructure companies will be reluctant to build until there’s enough EV’s on the road.

In the U.S. (and perhaps Europe) we have a fractured picture in fast charging.  Tesla Motors is building a fast charging network, and Nissan is building a fast charging network, and a couple 3rd party companies are building charging infrastructure that’s mostly level 2 charging.  In the public level 2 charging isn’t so useful, and fast charging is eminently preferable.  The best you can say about public level 2 charging is that it’s better than nothing.

In any case the point is these fast charging networks, Tesla’s and Nissan’s, are incompatible.  Meaning, the automakers aren’t cooperating with each other on building charging infrastructure.

The incompatibility isn’t just between Tesla and Nissan.  There’s also the Combo Charging System that most of the other automakers support, but there are very few EV’s being sold to use that system.  As a result there isn’t much push, that I’m aware of, toward supporting CCS fast charging stations.  But if there were such a push, it would mean there’d be three flavors of fast charging available, because the automakers aren’t collaborating on fast charging standards.

The three camps among the automakers – a) Tesla Motors, b) Nissan/Mitsubishi/Japanese, c) China, d) everyone else – okay, that’s four camps – didn’t manage do cooperate, sticking us the EV buying public with incompatible standards.

One hopes the other automakers will take note that it’s possible for automakers to cooperate and develop something for the good of society.

On the other hand – the press release includes two companies (Toyota and Honda) that are barely giving lip service to plug-in electric vehicles because both are pushing hard for fuel cell vehicles – and a third company (Mitsubishi) whose EV program is having problems.  In effect this press release is about Nissan pushing for charging infrastructure installation, just as Nissan has been doing in the U.S. (?and Europe?).

Here’s the full press release:

 

Toyota Motor Corporation
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation
Development Bank of Japan Inc.
TOKYO, Japan, May 30, 2014 – Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation jointly established a new company, Nippon Charge Service, LLC, on May 26 to promote the installation of chargers for electric-powered vehicles (PHVs, PHEVs, EVs). The goal is to help build a charging network that offers more convenience to drivers in Japan.
The new company will promote the installation of chargers, for the good of society and to expand the use of electric-powered vehicles. Related industries are also expected to benefit. Development Bank of Japan Inc. (DBJ) will support the joint effort of the four automakers by investing in the new company with its “Fund for Japanese Industrial Competitiveness.”*1
Electric-powered vehicles are playing a major role in driving next-generation energy policy. On November 12, 2013, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi jointly announced a plan to financially assist installers of charging stations and began taking applications from prospective charging station installers. Together with Government subsidies the grants will cover the entire cost of installation for successful applicants.
This program targets charging facilities recognized to have high public value under the next-generation vehicle charging infrastructure plans drawn up by local governments and authorities. Financial assistance will be made available to businesses and operations to establish charging spots in key locations, such as at commercial facilities and lodging facilities, as well as en-route charging spots at highway service and parking areas, and convenience stores and service stations on regular roads. Under the program, a number of commercial facilities, hotels, convenience stores and highways have started installing charging stations. Nippon Charge Service will manage the chargers and the installers of charging stations will be asked to participate in the charging infrastructure network operated by Nippon Charge Service.
Through the new company the four automakers will also provide car owners with a universally-accepted charging card. The system will be up and running by the end of the year and will enable convenient access to the chargers operated by the new company.
In the current favorable environment of government subsidies for charger installation, the four automakers are actively encouraging the installation of chargers by founding Nippon Charge Service. The companies are aiming for broader acceptance of electric vehicles by building a user-friendly infrastructure that will help society maximize the possibilities of electric vehicles.

Overview of Nippon Charge Service

Name of company Nippon Charge Service, LLC
Headquarters Room No. 2, 6F, Mita Nitto Dai Bldg., 3-11-36 Mita, Minato-ku,
Tokyo
Founded May 26, 2014
Stakeholders Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Motors Corporation
Development Bank of Japan Inc. (TBD)
Capitalization 80 million yen (excluding DBJ’s planned investment amount)
Websites Company overview:
http://www.nippon-juden.co.jp (to be available in mid-June)
Assistance program:
http://tnhm-juuden.com/

*1
DBJ has established the “Fund for Japanese Industrial Competitiveness” to enhance Japan’s competitiveness through the supply of risk money to the nation’s industries. The fund will encourage firms to turn their latent capabilities into new businesses by extending business frontiers and promoting strategic alliances with other firms. DBJ’s support for such activity will foster firms’ corporate growth.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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