Reuters. Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), the maker of Subarus, plans to co-develop and produce 10 electric cars with Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) over the next year to be tested by the utility as a first step toward wider use.
The partners will develop cheaper and more efficient technology to meet several conditions including a minimum driving range of 80 km (50 miles) and a recharging time of 15 minutes for 80% of the battery’s capacity.
TEPCO, Japan’s biggest electricity provider, would purchase Fuji Heavy’s electric cars for internal use if the price were limited to around ¥3 million (approximately US$27,400) and test them for practicality, feasibility and cost.
TEPCO would also assess the possibility of replacing some or all of the its fleet of some 3,000 small cars that it uses for traveling short distances with the electric vehicle. The company estimates that if all 3,000 were switched to electric vehicles, operational CO2 emissions would be reduced by 2,800 tonnes a year and fuel costs cut by ¥190 million (US$1.7 million) annually.
(That does not factor in CO2 production in TEPCO’s electricity generation. In 2003, TEPCO produced 24% of its power from nuclear and hydroelectric sources, 7% from coal, 20% from petroleum, and 49% from gases, most of that LNG.)
Fuji Heavy will seek to offer electric vehicles to other companies through technology gained from the experiment, with the eventual aim of commercializing them for personal use.
Fuji Heavy currently is developing the R1e electric minicar, which it hopes to have in the market around 2009 or 2010. With a manganese lithium-ion battery that can be recharged to 90% of capacity in five minutes, the current prototype has a range of 120 kilometers (75 miles) without recharging. FHI expects to expand that to 200 kilometers (124 miles). The lithium-ion battery was developed by NEC Lamilion Energy, a company created in 2002 by FHI and NEC. (Earlier post.)
TEPCO is also working with Mitsubishi on that automaker’s development of an electric version of the i minicar. TEPCO is providing TEPCO the recharging system—which can use a standard household circuit—and the rechargeable batteries. (Earlier post.)