In an interview with the Nikkei, Shinji Nishio, president of Nippon Oil Corp., said that gas stations will transform into providers of electricity and hydrogen, in addition to gasoline.
Given automakers’ production plans, electric vehicles will in the near future account for less than 1% of all passenger cars, with little immediate impact on gasoline sales. But in the medium term, electric vehicles will have an inevitable impact. I often tell gas station managers that we must adapt to the changing times. Electric cars are currently beset by high prices and short distances per charge, but technological innovation will lead to eventual improvements. Such vehicles may expand at an enormous rate from around 2015.
If the DPJ’s campaign pledge of reducing Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from the 1990 level by 2020 is implemented, it could possibly result in electric and hybrid vehicles accounting for all new car sales.
Starting in October, Nippon Oil is installing rapid chargers at 22 gas stations in Tokyo, Kanagawa and other prefectures. The additional time required to recharge an electric vehicle compared to fueling a car with gasoline (15-30 minutes compared to about 5) may give stations opportunities to provide additional services, Nishio said.
Nishio said he expected the number of gasoline stations may decline by more than 20%, proportional to the fall in demand for gasoline (which began in fiscal 2005).
When fuel cell cars arrive on the market, Nishio said, gas stations will also need to offer hydrogen.