Toyota, Nissan, others set up electric car group
15, 2010 - Yuri Kageyama - The Associated Press
Toyota and three other
Japanese automakers together with a power company have set up a group to promote
electric vehicles by standardizing recharging machines and marketing the technology
Representatives of Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Mitsubishi
Motors Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries and Tokyo Electric Power Co. gathered at a
Tokyo hotel Monday to announce the association, which includes about 160 businesses,
some of them foreign, and government organizations.
The officials said
the time may have arrived for electric vehicles to really take off not only in
Japan but also around the world as concerns grow about emissions and dependence
on oil. But the main hurdles that need to be overcome are better battery technology,
costs and having recharging stations in convenient locations.
are competing in many aspects, but the entire industry needs to come together
and offer convenience for our customers," said Nissan Chief Operating Officer
Nissan is planning to start selling in limited numbers
an electric vehicle called Leaf later this year, and Mitsubishi and Fuji Heavy
already have electric vehicles on the market. Toyota has begun offering for rental
a plug-in version of its gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
But electric vehicles
still remain largely experimental. The main users now are government-related groups
with only a niche market among regular consumers. The Japanese government has
made reducing greenhouse gases a pillar of its policy, and encouraging electric
vehicle use is seen as a key way that can be achieved.
"Please make this
an all Japan effort," Teruhiko Mashiko, the economy minister, told the crowd.
The group is still working out the details of its recharging platform.
Standardization would require all makers to agree on the voltage, outlet and other
aspects of the technology while also ensuring relatively speedy recharging.
some participants expressed hopes the standard would spread internationally, Toyota
executive Koei Saga said that was "close to impossible" because of different needs
and uses overseas.
Among the other businesses in the group are Pacific
Gas and Electric Co., French carmaker PSA, Japanese electronics maker Toshiba
Corp. and KDDI Corp., a major Japan telecommunications company.
is called "CHAdeMo" which comes from the words "charge" and "move," and sounds
like Japanese for, "Care for some tea?"