(Photo by Alexander Safonov on Flickr)
Nissan Motor Company has proven its ability to work with private and public characters in bringing EVs to the market, in particular its alliance with Renault. Nissan is approaching the EV development process from the city management angle with a recently announced project called Yokohama Mobility “Project Zero.” The goal of “Project Zero” is to saturate the city of Yokohama with zero-emissions vehicles over the next five years. Nissan and city officials are emboldened by positive results in a joint study of the city’s infrastructure issued in November 2008.
The centerpiece of “Project Zero” is the division of Yokohama into different zones based on carbon emissions and energy consumption. Yokohama’s downtown district will be called a “Zero Carbon” zone, forcing professionals to take public transit and find zero-emissions conveyances to get around. Every district surrounding downtown Yokohama will be considered a “Low Carbon” zone, increasing demand for hybrid and all-electric vehicles.
The Nissan-Yokohama collaboration has several objectives to be fulfilled in 2009. Yokohama will outfit vehicles with Nissan Carwings, an online tool to compare fuel consumption and emissions between Nissan owners, as soon as possible. Both parties will maintain an EcoMobility website to give consumers access to frequently asked questions, EV studies and other information ahead of further development.
“Project Zero” will also focus on consumer incentives, infrastructure and connectivity to public transit over the next year. The Japanese federal government may increase its subsidies for electric vehicle purchases beyond the 300,000 yen offered in 2008. Yokohama officials will solicit funding from local businesses to fund 100 charging stations while budgeting money in subsequent years to create an electric charging network. Nissan and Yokohama are particularly interested in bridging the gap between public transportation and businesses with the help of zero-emission vehicles like bikes and electric cars.
Japan has suffered greatly from the economic crisis with exports decreasing drastically over the halcyon days of the late 1990s. The national government may not be capable of creating a regional EV network, leaving cities to take the lead. Nissan-Renault has a great plan in place to get hybrid and EV vehicles into the market in the next few years. Cities like Yokohama have to meet this challenge by focusing on future infrastructure that will improve air quality and decrease fuel costs.