Japanese automakers establish electric car group
Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi and others set up group to promote electric vehicles, charging standard.
According to Associated Press reports, representatives of Toyota Motor Corp.,Nissan Motor Co., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries, and TokyoElectric Power Co. gathered in Tokyo on March 15, 2010 to announce thedevelopment of a new association, which includes about 160 businesses, some ofthem foreign, and government organizations, aimed at promoting electricvehicles by standardizing recharging machines and marketing the technologyabroad.
The association is called "CHAdeMo" which comes from the words "charge" and "move." 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 inconvenient locations.
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. Despite these introductions, electric vehicles still remain largely experimental. The main users now are government-related groups with only a niche market among regular consumers.
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. Although 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. Conspicuously absent among the top members is Honda Motor Co., whose participation was limited to its research unit. Honda has not been as aggressive on electric vehicles as Nissan or Mitsubishi, focusing instead on fuel cell vehicles, which it already leases in small numbers, as a clean technology.
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