With internal combustion-engined cars, whether they use petrol or diesel, things are pretty simple: when you’re low on fuel, you just drive into a service station and voila; fill up your car and continue on your way. Electric vehicles are a different matter though and the ideal solution would be an EV-equivalent of the service station.
For this reason, four Japanese oil wholesalers, including Cosmo Oil, Idemitsu Kosan, JC Nippon Oil and Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, announced that they will be doing just that: they will install 27 charging stations in select service stations between Tokyo and Kanagawa in the first three months of 2012.
While 27 charging points is certainly a start, it’s not that impressive considering the number of plug-in vehicles that manufacturers expect to sell in Japan. The actual novelty in this idea is that customers will not pay according to the electricity used for charging their vehicle, like conventional car owners do for the petrol/diesel pumped into their tanks. Instead, the “EV Service Station Network”, as it is called, will charge a fixed monthly price of 3,000 Yen (US$38.62) for unlimited charges in any of the network’s 27 stations.
This is a move in the right direction to curb, what the industry calls, “range anxiety” in the acceptance of battery powered vehicles. For non heavy users, however, a 100 km real world range has been found to be enough to take most commuters to work and back, in one single charge. In other words, if you treat your electric car like your smartphone and make a habit of charging it every night, you should be fine.