Japan Races to Embrace an Electric-Car Future

By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – What is the biggest threat to traditional car manufacturers in Japan? As The New York Times recently reported, it is the advent of battery-powered electric vehicles. According to the Times, conventional auto part suppliers are nervous: they and the carmakers they work with provide one in 10 Japanese jobs and account for a fifth of national exports.

But under pressure from foreign rivals, Toyota is now developing a batch of new electric models. At the annual Toyko Motor Show last fall, both Toyota and Honda prominently displayed new electric prototypes; previously they had expressed doubt that cars relying entirely on rechargeable batteries would prove reliable enough, or able to travel far enough, that consumers would embrace them, the Times reports. In January 2018, Toyota announced a battery-development partnership with Panasonic, and plans to introduce 10 new electric models by the early 2020s with the aim of selling one million all-electric vehicles annually by 2030.

“The ever-increasing push toward an all-electric future around the world is shining a light on the technological challenges involved,” says Stephen Voller, CEO of ZapGo Ltd, the developer of Carbon-Ion™ (C-Ion®) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries. “One of the main hurdles is ensuring that there will be a sufficiently rigorous network of recharging stations that can accommodate the needs of electric vehicle owners. In Japan as elsewhere, matters of infrastructure development must be addressed before the new technology can be unrolled in full.”

The challenges in Japan are echoed by those currently being faced in other nations, such as Britain, for example. As part of the UK’s ambitious “decarbonization” target, all cars sold in that country may have to be electric vehicles by 2050, but charging them all will pose a huge logistical challenge. Even with a 50-kilowatt charger, it would take 80 minutes to charge a vehicle with a 90 kilowatt-hour battery from 25 percent to 100 percent, notes a report prepared by SO Energy Insights.

Around the world, utility grids will have to be optimized to support a level of charging that motorists find convenient or else they just won’t use them. Ultra-fast charging, a technology made possible with Carbon-Ion, could be the solution. For example, a 350-kilowatt charger would take less than five minutes to charge an average EV of today from 25 to 100 percent. The smart energy storage in Carbon-Ion cells can provide a much more energy-efficient charging solution for drivers while potentially saving local utilities billions of dollars in infrastructure costs. A bank of ZapGo Carbon-Ion cells could be integrated into electric charging stations in cities and countries around the world to ensure sufficient power to recharge electric vehicles in a quick and convenient manner.

“The extent to which countries like Japan are successful in converting their population to an all-electric future is strongly dependent on how issues like these are resolved in the near-term,” Voller adds.

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