In a bid to to develop a revitalized, resilient, and sustainable community capable of living up to the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, Nissan, along with three local governments and eight other Japanese companies, has begun a field test for new mobility services and connected technologies to showcase the future of low-carbon community building in Japan.
Based in the Hamadori area of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, the companies involved in the “field test” aim to develop new modes of transportation and promote the use of renewable energy in everyday life. For Nissan’s part, it will be operating an EV shuttle service that runs in a high-frequency loop around the central district of the town of Namie, using roadside stations as mobility hubs. These hubs would connect to other vehicles — including residents’ personal vehicles — and serve as “spokes” for other established travel options (ex.: bus lines and trains) to surrounding areas.
It’s worth noting, too, that this isn’t just a shuttle service for people. Nissan’s shuttle service supports shuttling stuff around Namie, as well, so shops and restaurants near a given hub could drop off their packages at that hub, and have them shuttled around to another hub along the route, where the customers would be waiting to pick them up. An app would allow the town’s residents to track their purchases as they make their way to them, and confirm their identity at the point of pickup. It’s — I mean, it’s clever, right? Japan Post seems to think so, anyway — and it is lending vehicles and manpower to the project, as well.
According to the official release, the participating companies believe their innovative shuttle service — along with their technical and marketing know-how — can help support town projects related to tourism and revitalization by creating a more attractive local community in Namie. Nissan believes its system will help make the town safer to live in as well, with energy storage batteries and Vehicle-2-Grid technology helping to make the town more resilient to the type of earthquakes and extreme weather-related disasters that seem to have plagued in Japan in recent years. That’s a theme we’ve heard before from Nissan, too, when it launched its Re-LEAF electric emergency vehicle concept last summer.
It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out, and whether Nissan will be able to build on the electric vehicle headstart it has over its domestic rivals, Honda and Toyota, which seem to be playing catch-up at the moment after decades spent developing hybrids over EVs. Establishing itself as the go-to brand for package delivery, community shuttles, and emergency response vehicles throughout Japan would certainly cement Nissan in that leadership position, don’t you think?
I certainly think this could all play into Nissan’s hands and give it an insurmountable lead in the Japanese EV market, but that’s just me. What do you guys think? Check out the RE-LEAF video, below (more because it’s awesome, less because it’s relevant) then let us know how you’d like to see Nissan spin this little experiment in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Nissan RE-LEAF Electric Emergency Vehicle
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