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Japan and Germany want to set standards for next-generation autos

Digital 3-D maps, ultra-fast chargers, other joint projects eyed

HANNOVER, Germany -- The Japanese and German governments are to join hands -- they're calling it comprehensive cooperation -- to develop technologies and design specifications for next-generation automobiles, sources said.

Under the agreement, the two countries will jointly develop a new, ultra-fast charging technology for on-board batteries, nail down specifications and cooperate on the development of 3-D maps -- indispensable for self-driving technology.

The agreement will also launch talks between Here, a German digital mapping company, and Dynamic Map Planning, a planning company set up by Japanese manufacturers.

Hiroshige Seko, Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry, and Brigitte Zypries, Germany's minister of economic affairs and energy, will sign a memorandum confirming the agreement in Germany. Seko will visit the country ahead of the opening of CeBIT, Europe's largest IT trade show, which opens here on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government plans to announce a "connected industry" policy under which it is to promote cooperation among businesses and research institutions across industrial and national boundaries.

This connected industry policy will be included in the government's growth strategy that is expected to be hammered out this summer.

There are no international standards for battery-charging technologies. Japanese and German automakers -- which together control half of the global market -- use their own specifications.

Also, charging an electric vehicle takes about half an hour. This is regarded as too long to make electric cars a truly viable alternative.

To address these issues, the two governments will agree on efforts to jointly develop a common set of standards for an ultra-fast charging system that will complete the job in a few minutes.

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