Only in Japan: recharge electric cars at a beverage vending machine

Summary:With oil prices threatening to soar once again, Japan's industry leaders have a novel idea that may help hasten the adoption of plug-in vehicles.

Credit: Nissan

With oil prices threatening to soar once again, Japan's industry leaders have a novel idea that may help hasten the adoption of plug-in vehicles.

As many as ten Japanese companies, which include vending company Forking and re-charging unit producer Panasonic, are collaborating on an effort to install electric vehicle chargers at the sites of beverage vending machines.
While there are millions of vending machines all across Japan, the initial plan is to ensure that at least 10,000 of these locations will serve as re-charging stations after a year's time beginning in March.

The machines "will be installed where beverage vending machines already exist or together with new ones. There are various options," Forking company official Reiko Kobayashi told Agence France-Presse.

This latest move is quite bold considering that there's still a lot of uncertainty over whether electric cars will ultimately catch on. With the automotive industry's recent push to get models like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf out on the market, the technology has shown some degree of promise. Yet critics still view electric vehicles as too impractical to be a viable option for many consumers, pointing to the lack of re-charging stations and the fact that, when compared to conventional cars, battery-powered cars can only go a short distance before needing to be refueled.

But if recent developments on the research and development front are any indication, the technology is due for a renaissance. Scientists are reportedly working on a new battery that can store much more energy and function well in extreme temperatures, according to the American Chemical Society. And over at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, researchers are also working on improvements that would allow electric cars to charge up much faster .

So as recharging stations become widely, which Japan hopes to make happen, a bonafide transition away from gas guzzlers and the whims of roller-coaster oil prices will start to feel more and more likely.

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Topics: Innovation


Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of He holds degrees from the University of California... Full Bio

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