Japan’s leading automakers are working with utilities, banks and suppliers to encourage quick-charge units for EV owners. This collaboration has yielded the Charging Network Development Organization, LLC, which features nine Japanese businesses heavily invested in the next generation of automotive technology. Representatives from Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi spearheaded the effort along with the Development Bank of Japan. Additional members include ULVAC, Kanematsu Corporation, Kandenko, Suzuyo Shoji, and Chubu Electric. The Charging Network Development Organization could pave the way for EV infrastructure development not seen elsewhere in the world.
This organization emerged from the work of the CHAdeMO Association dating back to July 2010. Members of CHAdeMO were asked to determine how EV infrastructure investment could be spurred in the midst of difficult economic circumstances. A report published earlier this spring indicated that EV infrastructure had limped along due to equipment costs and lack of coordination. CHAdeMO found that Japan only features about 800 EV quick chargers as of October 2011, a lackluster effort given the nation’s role as a technological frontier. The seeds were planted for the Charging Network Development Organization following this grim assessment.
Businesses, government agencies and individuals in Japan interested in quick chargers will be able to acquire memberships into the organization. The nine founding members will use annual membership fees to fund educational efforts that encourage public awareness of EV chargers. These funds will also be used to develop network maps and wireless communications that allow members to find the nearest chargers. Membership fees from drivers will help reduce the upfront costs of installing and maintaining quick-charge units. The Charging Network Development Organization wants to streamline the installation, maintenance and utility billing processes alongside its membership services.
The Charging Network Development Organization is driven largely by investments from Japan’s major automakers. Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi currently hold 54.6% of equity interest in the organization. The Chubu Electric Power Co. possesses an 18.2% stake comparable to the automakers in recognition of the importance of utilities in EV infrastructure development. The Development Bank of Japan holds a 9.1% equity interest while the remaining four partners possess a 4.5% interest per company. This substantial investment in Japan’s quick-charge infrastructure is required to kick the nation’s focus on advanced transportation technology into high gear. A substantial and easy-to-use EV charging network in Japan could act as an example for automakers, utilities and governments around the world.