Japan may be the easiest place in the world to drive an electric car, now that EV chargers officially outnumber traditional gas stations. A new estimate says the island country has more than 40,000 EV chargers nationwide, edging out fossil fuel fill-up spots by 5,000. Nissan, maker of the 107-mile-range all-electric Leaf, conducted the survey, tallying up all the places that help keep range anxiety at bay.
Japan’s EV charger numbers are no accident. In 2013, the government announced a deal with auto industry leaders to dump $1.025 billion into EV charging infrastructure. At that time, the country had only 4,700 chargers within its borders, meaning Japan has seen an 800 percent increase in the number of EV chargers nationwide in just three years. That growth marks an impressive commitment to green transportation.
The Japanese ratio of EV chargers to gas stations is far and above that of the United States, where there are just 9,000 public charging stations, a figure dwarfed by its 114,500 filling stations. Nissan’s count of Japanese chargers includes many installed in private garages and used by a single owner, and critics are also quick to point out that even a public EV charger can only serve one vehicle at a time, while gas stations have multiple pumps operating simultaneously.
Despite the technical flaws in comparing the numbers, Japan’s EV boom is well under way. The massive infrastructure investment in Japan, along with subsidies for electric car purchases on the Leaf and other Evs, is meant to further spur the electric car market, and it will probably work, too.