In North America, the combustion engine is still king after years of understanding that the use of fossil fuels contributes to global warming and climate change. Although the combustion engine may rule the roads of North America, across the Pacific in Japan things are drastically different.
Nissan recently announced that in Japan there are now more vehicle charging stations than gas stations. There are 40,000 charging units in Japan, a number that also includes homes, opposed to 34,000 gas stations. These numbers show that it is indeed feasible to power cars by electricity, a concept many are skeptical of in North America.
If a country like Japan can pull off such a feat, then why can’t a country like the United States begin seriously taking a look at such technology? Japan is home to 127 million people, and they pulled it off. Granted, the US has a larger population, and a larger land area, but if industry leaders were to learn from Japan’s implementation of the technology, it could take off in the United States, where currently electric cars seem to be more of a novelty than a practical everyday solution for getting around. This mentality is in part due to the deficiencies of the technology itself, which doesn’t exactly go very far on a charge, but the other problem is the lack of charging stations across the US. The US is home to a growing number of charging stations, but not enough to really push the technology forward.
Japan is a country that is on the cutting edge of technology, and has been for many years. It’s no surprise that Japan is home to more charging stations than gas stations. It represents a great step forward for Japan in the fight against climate change, and global warming, both of which are topics of great debate in the United States, even in the face of scientific evidence that the climate is indeed changing, and the world is indeed warming up. Media outlets like FOX news don’t exactly help the debate much when they tell their viewers how global warming and climate change are a sham, citing graphics of a snow covered North America in the midst of winter.
In the US, the only way to get people to take a serious look at electric cars is to combat the costly, novelty public opinion of them. Charging stations are going to be a big step forward in getting people on board with the idea, but so is cost, an issue that GM is combatting with the introduction of the Chevy Bolt, a new electric car that will come in around 30,000 dollars. The Bolt also takes a leap forward in terms of its ability to travel 200 miles per charge.
Aside from the perception that electric cars are nothing more than a novelty, another issue is the lack of charging stations. Some areas are more fortunate when it comes to charging stations, and the same goes for hydrogen cell fueling stations. Either you’ve got a few, or you’ve got none. If manufacturers expect people to buy these cars, charging infrastructure needs to be implemented. Charging stations in parking lots and at workplaces would be a big step forward, with a few who have already taken the imitative in terms of implementing such technology. Charging equipment doesn’t take up a massive amount of space, making it suitable for many locations. It’s an area that’s improving in North America, but isn’t making any great leaps forward either. Where the technology is present, public awareness seems to lack.
Finally, manufacturers themselves need to continue development on the technology. North American drivers have become accustomed to being able to drive for great distances before needing to fill up the tank. In most areas there is no concern about being near a gas station near-by, and the refilling process is quick, not one that takes hours. The combustion engine has given many families great enjoyment though road trips. This is indeed one of the major flaws when it comes to electric cars. The recharge time is something many don’t have the patience for, but if you want to be environmentally friendly, and be able to refuel your car quickly; hydrogen fuel cell cars are the way to go. The Toyota Mirai will soon become the first commercially available hydrogen fuel cell car.
The electric car is by no means going to take anyone on an enjoyable road trip any time soon, but in the city, to and from work, to the grocery store, and so on, it could be a practical solution. Charging the car at home is easy enough, but for sake of practicality, charging infrastructure needs to become more common at workplaces, businesses, and so on. In the city, the electric car may have its greatest chance at succeeding. Will these changes ever come? Eventually, but looking to Japan, it’s clear that these changes should come sooner rather than later if North America wants to stay current when it comes to technology.
Charging stations are on the rise in North America, just not at a rate fast enough to combat this novelty attitude of electric cars. There are around 20,000 charging stations in the US opposed to 121,000 gas stations. There are far more gas stations in North America than charging stations. If this trend were to reverse, it would finally make travel with an EV practical, eliminating the worry of where you’re going to charge it. Today’s 20,000 stations aren’t enough to really put much of a dent in the oil industry, but as the electric car market grows, and the number of charging stations across the nation also grow, the novelty will wear off, and the EV will become a very practical way to get around well into the future. The US needs to follow in the path of Japan, a nation with more charging stations than gas stations, and more charging stations than the entire United States. 20,000 charging stations in the US may sound like a lot, but it isn’t.
Do you own an electric car? Would you be willing to drive an electric car? Let us know in the comments below!