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Published on February 18th, 2015 | by James Ayre


Japan Now Home To More Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Than Gas Stations

February 18th, 2015 by  

Japan is now home to more electric vehicle (EV) charging points than gas stations — with there now being more 40,000 EV charging points as compared to 34,000 gas stations, according to recent reports. That’s not even including normal electrical sockets, where electric cars can also charge. Of course the comparison does include the EV charging points installed at homes — but still, that’s pretty impressive. And no doubt a comparison that will become more and more lopsided in favor of EV charging stations over the coming years.

red Nissan LEAF

The new figures are coming to us via a recent report from one of Japan’s leading EV manufacturers, Nissan — which has, to date, sold more than 160,000 LEAFs since the launch of that model a few years ago.

Despite those global sales numbers, though, sales in Japan have not been quite as high as the company hoped — reportedly in part due to concerns about not finding a charging station when needed and running the battery dry. Hence the rapid buildout over recent years.

“An important element of the continued market growth is the development of the charging infrastructure,” noted Nissan chief financial officer, Joseph G Peter, during a recent conference call with analysts.

nissan leaf man charging japan


RenewEconomy provides some information on growth of infrastructure elsewhere in the world:

In Australia, local fast-charge tech company, Tritium, installed its first public Veefil EV charger in Brisbane at a BMW dealership in Fortitude Valley – the first of a planned “electric super highway” of fast chargers along the east coast.

And in the US, BMW and Volkswagen have agreed to join the EV charging network operated by ChargePoint, and to help finance the roll-out of up to 100 fast chargers along the busiest corridors of the US coasts.

And just last week, US utility Pacific Gas & Electric filed a proposal for $654 million in ratepayer dollars to build 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations in public places in northern and central California – the leading market for EVs in the US.

A month earlier, in January, Kansas utility Great Plains Energy, announced plans to build a network of more than 1,000 charging stations in the region by mid-2015, with charging to be free to the public for the first two years.

And then, of course, there’s Tesla’s rather rapid rollout of charging stations throughout its biggest markets. (See: North American Tesla Supercharger Network Surpasses CHAdeMO In Charging Point Numbers)

Given that there are still some decent incentives in place in Japan for EV infrastructure development, it seems likely that the network there will continue growing relatively rapidly.

Image Credit: Nissan LEAF charging in Japan & man unplugging Nissan LEAF, via Joel_420 / & Joel_420 /

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Moonbaby

    I think Gas Stations should be charge points as well. They have plenty of space for that don’t they?

  • AJ Weerasinghe

    Back in 2010 or 2011 Siemens stated, they were producing 2 mil EV charging stations. They said they know how to create the market.

  • AltairIV

    This is interesting news to me. I never would’ve guessed it, because I have yet to personally see a public charging station here at all. Perhaps they cluster more in communities with active EV/renewable policies or something. I’m pretty sure the average Japanese person has no idea what is available to them either.

    From the discussions I’ve had, my impression is that the average Japanese citizen is holding back from buying EV’s primarily out of range anxiety and lack of convenient charging. The average city dweller lives in an apartment or condo block of some kind with no access to a home charge point, and they are not able (or at least don’t think that they are able) to charge at work or when out on their routine errands either. Perhaps things will change a bit when it becomes clear that a solid network of public stations exists for them to use.

    In the end though I think that what would really change things the most would be chargers in two places. First, in apartment building garages, as I mentioned, and second, in the nigh-ubiquitous little pay-parking spots dotted around the cities. If most every parking space in the city had a charging outlet built in to it, instead of just a handful of out-of-the-way stand-alone stations, then I’m confident that EV ownership would skyrocket virtually overnight. The charging network companies really ought to be partnering with the pay-parking operators to offer them as a parking perk.

    • Kyle Field

      Sounds like a ripe market for those street light chargers that were featured on here a few months back as I’m sure is the case in many/most urban environments.

      • AltairIV

        I don’t think so. Most of the streets here are either too narrow or too busy for street-side parking. Though there may be a few areas where it would work. The pay-parking I’m thinking about consists mostly of 2-6 space mini-lots stuck in wherever there’s a bit of free space. They’re often also temporary, as landowners try to grab a bit of extra income between tearing down one building and starting up on the next. Some of the more permanent lots also offer monthly rental spaces for local apartment dwellers.

        The other main parking resource comes in the form of large, automated parking towers, where an elevator hauls your car up (or down) to a designated holding spot. They probably do not offer a good layout for charging.

  • Kyle Field

    There are interesting metrics at work here. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the true need for public EV charging stations – especially L2 units. They make tons of sense for home and workplace charging but out in public, they are just awkward. Having to stay for 4-5 hours is not practical and means you’re rolling the dice on whether or not someone else is there using it.

    All that to say, it’s really the penetration of fast chargers that is worth noting. L2 units are great…but not really that important for general public charging as they are unreliable. Fast charging units will charge more (likely per minute fees) in order to keep people from camping on them (inadvertently or not) thus keeping them more open to drive through charging. At the most, people would have to wait 30 minutes to start charging…which is definitely not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world either.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Early on there was a discussion by some people in the car manufacturing business. Agreement seemed to be that L2 chargers were more for “anxiety relief” than actual use.

      Where L2s will come in handy is in work/school parking lots. For people who don’t have an outlet where they park when at home.

      Outside of that go for super-duper chargers and if people need a few miles to get home then they can hook up for a couple of minutes.

      • Kyle Field

        I completely agree 🙂

    • NRG4All

      I would add that L2’s make sense at Theaters and Bowling Alleys. Our LEAF with the 6.6 charger can get 50 miles of driving on just a two hour charge. What I am wishing for is standardization or al least adapters on charging stations that would accept a normal Visa or M/C instead of proprietary connects and payment methods. It needs to be just like a gas station.

      • Hazel

        Exactly. For today’s short-range EVs like the Leaf, and PHEVs like the Volt and Fords, L2 is a big help.

  • Martin

    How do other counties compare to that, different European ones, Norway with lots of new EV’s, Australia, Canada and different states in the US, gas stations vs charge points?

    • Ronald Brakels

      Australia? Well, they just built a few Tesla chargers in Sydney and there’s a few others around the place… and that’s about it. On the bright side, with our more powerful current every power socket can meet most electric vehicle charging needs over night. Charge up while spending 8 hours at work? That’s about 100 kilometers range. Charge 12 hours overnight? That’s about 150 kilometers range. With the average distance driven by an Australian car only being about 40 kilometers a day that’s all most Australians will require. No need to go through the expense of installing a special charging points at home. The only requirement is the car be designed to handle Australian/European current.

  • Will E

    gas has reached capsize point,
    EV and charge stations tipping point.

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