You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Japan Going [Somewhat] Electric

Posted in Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on August 27, 2008

The thing is, we have the technology already to build electric cars, or most other known alternative energy sources. All else being equal, modern manufacturing technology can make almost anything available in large numbers and efficient enough to be workable (if not necessarily economic) for a given mission.

But all else isn’t equal – there’s a huge infrastructure (gas stations, qualified mechanics, aftermarket components and even general public knowledge) supporting hydrocarbon fuels, and effectively zero infrastructure for any alternative. If you live in a large city, there may be half a dozen hydrogen stations. You can plug your EV into your garage at home, but what about the office? That’s a serious problem because all extant EVs are lucky to get from home to office before they need to be plugged in.

The US doesn’t do big public infrastructure projects anymore (reality: our road infrastructure, including a lot of the oil industry, was jump-started by government policy 70+ years ago) so it’s not clear how we’ll get from here to there. And before anyone comments, yes that is definitely a separate issue from whether we should. Anyway, Japan is attacking the issue head-on:

Utility Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has announced the development of new electric stations that could charge an EV enough to run for 40 km (26 miles) in five minutes, or up to 60 km (40 miles) in ten minutes. The company sees them in, for instance, supermarkets. The government is helping build the infrastructure as well: The Kanagawa prefecture, the region adjoining Tokyo, is providing 150 recharging stations in an effor to fulfil the Japanese Government’s announcement that half of the new cars sold in 2020 will be electric.

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