電気自動車 不毛な規格争いは混乱を招く

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 30, 2012)
Carmakers shouldn't fight over EV charging systems
電気自動車 不毛な規格争いは混乱を招く(10月29日付・読売社説)

It now seems inevitable that conflict will emerge between Japanese and Western automakers over charging systems for electric vehicles.

The difficulties are a blow to the Japanese auto industry, which had aimed to make its battery charging system a global standard. Domestic carmakers are now being urged to review their strategy so they can further promote their electric models.

EVs are regarded as the ultimate eco-friendly vehicle because they emit no carbon dioxide, while their major disadvantage is a range of only about 200 kilometers per charge.

Automakers have been competing over improvements in the quality of the lithium-ion batteries EVs run on, as well as over fast-charging technology.

The Japanese auto industry--including Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Co., both of which mass-produce EVs--has successfully implemented its CHAdeMo system and has called for European and U.S. automakers to adopt it.


Incompatible systems

However, the U.S. auto industry has decided on a different system, called Combo, which is being promoted mainly by General Motors Co. of the United States and Germany's Volkswagen AG.

The two schemes use different charging connectors and are incompatible with each other.

Although Combo is still in development (it is expected to be ready in 2013 or later), the U.S. auto industry rejected a proposal from the Japanese auto industry apparently out of fear the EV market would come to be dominated by Japanese firms.

If the Combo system becomes standard in the West and other markets, Japanese automakers, despite currently being ahead in developing a charging system, would instead find themselves isolated.

Automakers should make customer convenience their top priority. Having two different systems would confuse people, which could negatively effect EV sales.

In sales terms, EVs are less popular than hybrid vehicles, which use both gasoline and electric motors. Thus a global tussle over a vital EV technology is highly unwelcome.


Adopt flexible approach

We believe Japanese automakers should not only try to promote CHAdeMo, but should undertake initiatives to develop technology to make the two systems compatible.

It is also important for Japanese makers to accommodate China--the world's largest auto market--which is developing its own EV charging system.

Further, installing many more charging stations and other necessary EV facilities both in Japan and abroad is important to make EVs more popular.

Despite its technological prowess, Japan has sometimes failed to make its technologies the global standard--typical examples being its analog high-definition broadcasting system and mobile phone technology. No more such failures should be allowed.

It is reasonable that the government decided in its strategy for promoting intellectual property to prioritize making Japanese technologies into global standards. The government and the private sector should work together to find ways to achieve this goal so Japanese companies can increase their industrial competitiveness.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 29, 2012)
(2012年10月29日01時53分  読売新聞)

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