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Electric cars in China

China and Japan seek common charging standards for electric vehicles

Compatible systems could smooth way for plug-in autos into Chinese market

There are now competing charging standards for electric vehicles. (Photo by Takeshi Shiraishi)

TOKYO -- China's state-owned power utility has offered to collaborate with a Japanese industry group to develop a unified standard governing the charging of electric vehicles, which could cut manufacturing costs and fuel the spread of the autos.

The CHAdeMO Association, the Tokyo-based organization promoting the electric vehicle charging standard by the same name, revealed Wednesday it is in talks with the State Grid Corp. of China to launch the joint project.

"We are discussing it in detail," said Makoto Yoshida, CHAdeMO's general secretary, who spoke about State Grid's overture during a group conference.

Since China already has its own GB/T charging standard, chances are good that the two sides will develop charging methods, plug design and other aspects that are mutually compatible. Such a regime would be a boon for Japan's big three -- Toyota Motor, Nissan Motor and Honda Motor -- which are all rushing to produce electric autos in China.

Electric vehicles are more prevalent China than anywhere else in the world, thanks to purchase incentives and a license plate cap on gasoline autos. Next year, the government will impose on automakers a production quota for new-energy vehicles.

Separately, CHAdeMO has been seen as a rival of the European-led standard Combo, but Yoshida reiterated that is not the case. "There is no battle between standards. We are discussing compatibility and such," he said. If a Sino-Japanese partnership were to come into being, the next question would be how closely CHAdeMO and Combo will work together.

CHAdeMO also announced Wednesday that its standard spans more than 18,000 charging points in 71 countries. Japan houses the most CHAdeMO charging units at 7,241. Europe has 6,260 units, while North America is home to 2,362 connectors.

"Electric vehicles will make up half of the automobile market in 2030, and in 2050 every auto will likely be non-carbon-emitting electric vehicles or fuel cell vehicles," said CHAdeMO President Toshiyuki Shiga.

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