Electric vehicle owners like to think of themselves as green, but that color may be taking on a more glowing, radioactive hue in Japan.

The ecologically friendly reputation of electric cars in Japan is taking a hit since last year's meltdowns of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant have made more people concerned about a primary source of electricity throughout the country, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

The meltdown – caused my last March's earthquake and ensuing tsunami – created a 12-mile radius around Fukushima where people are barred because of radiation issues. Before last year's disaster, the Japanese government planned on having nuclear power eventually supply half of the country's electricity, up from a third, but those plans have been put on hold.

Nissan, which has said it expects to sell 1.5 million electric vehicles around the world by 2015, has sold just 12,000 battery-electric Leafs in Japan since launching the model in 2010, according to the report. There have been positive associations drawn between the EV and its role in the earthquake relief efforts (between the Mitsubishi i and the aftermath, too) and Nissan even touted the way some battery packs that were damaged in the quake survived intact.

Rising gas prices make charging an EV in Japan about 90 percent less expensive than filling a tank. That said, electricity prices may spike expenses stemming from fixing the Fukushima plant increase. The higher cost might be the way EVs could get lumped together with nuclear energy in some consumers' minds.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Gasoline is 100% imported in Japan and nuclear is the only real option for electricity. Electricity from Gasoline is extremely expensive. This has nothing to do with the Leaf. It has to do with the constraints of living on an island where population is super high, and available space is super low... with little potential for renewable electricity and high gas costs. Get a grip, Autoblog.
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      Electricity is more scarce in Japan right now. They have mandatory cutbacks. EVs are going to take a bit of a hit until this is straightened out.
      Brian E Parker
      • 3 Years Ago
      Of folks could install solar panels and wind generators on the roofs of their homes and create their own electricity - it doesn't have to come through the wire from somewhere else.
        breakfastburrito
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Brian E Parker
        Unfortunately, solar can't yet provide enough juice for cars. There are new strips of air collectors that may eventually work (on tall buildings). But for right now, electricity comes from nukes, coal-fired powerplants, etc. VERY damaging to the environment. People will eventually learn that the best way, is to build communities with better bicycle access. Besides keeping the earth healthy, bicycling strips off the ugly fat, and keeps us healthy.
          Generic
          • 3 Years Ago
          @breakfastburrito
          It's already being done. Get with the times. Costco sells home solar panel kits now. If someone wants to do it, they can. Nothing I hate more then misinformation.
          Jason Allen
          • 3 Years Ago
          @breakfastburrito
          So completely wrong. Solar CAN provide enough juice. Electricity here comes from hydro, wind, solar, nukes. Almost no coal. Shallow thinking burrito, tsk tsk. Slavery to oil is VERY damaging to environment AND WALLETS! Fund the Saudi's some more billions, yeah that's wise! Bikes are nice but you're crazy if you think they are more than a drop in the bucket. Since not too many folks want to shower after their commutes and few want to live in Mayberry-like small towns the best answer to America's commuting problems is going to be electric and probably for Japan too. Using up nighttime excess electric capacity by storing energy in batteries is way too smart to not utilize electric cars to fill that use/need. You sound like you'll understand things if put to you sensibly so that's the direction I come from. :)
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          @breakfastburrito
          That's ridiculous. I know people who cover their entire household usage, including A/C and EV driving off their solar panels.
          SatinSheetMetal
          • 3 Years Ago
          @breakfastburrito
          Bicycling strips off the ugly fat caused by eating breakfast burritos.
          Edward Hutchinson
          • 2 Years Ago
          @breakfastburrito
          If every vehicle had a parking space with a southern exposure that was shaded by an 18 x 12 PV array then it is possible. That space will accommodate a 2.5kW array. A 2.5kW array can produce the 18kWh (equivalent to one gallon of gas burned in a reasonably efficient engine) for a 25 mile commute (in a fairly comfortable car), during a long summer day (at our latitude +- 45 deg). But less than half enough most of the winter and almost none in Dec. If the car comes twice as far (from the suburbs), then a second 2.5kW array (grid connected) could cover the home garage roof. Millions of small grid connected arrays can provide enough electricity for a lot of vehicles. Add a few million small wind turbines for winter and cloudy days and the nukes can remain shut down. Our utility sells 18kWh for $3.78, and a gallon of gas was $3.95 yesterday. With the capital cost amortised over 30 years, the PV array in our back yard will produce electricity at just over nine cents per kWh (if nothing breaks). Our utility "net meters" so excess energy sent to the grid is credited at "retail" price.
      ZOZ
      • 3 Years Ago
      When talking about EV's some people even forget the electricity should come from somewhere. I do not mean it's the same level of resources and pollution, but it's not zero either.
        Tagbert
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ZOZ
        Of course the energy used to charge EV's comes from somewhere, but the cost in terms of energy, carbon, and money is significantly less than with gasoline. You can start with the higher efficiency of electric motors. Then, at the power plant, even if you generate power from coal, it is more efficient to operate a large stationary power plant than millions of small moving power plants. It is also easier to control pollution at that single source. Even if an EV is powered entirely from coal, the carbon output is less per mile than an ICE vehicle. Part of the reason for that is there is a significant amount of energy in terms of oil, gasoline, and electricity that goes into the drilling, piping, shipping, refining, and delivery of oil. people always talk about how inefficient it is to ship electric car batteries and parts from place to place but they forget how much oil and gasoline cost to ship around. Yes, 42% of the US electricity supply comes from coal, though that number is dropping year over year. New coal plants are not being built, instead power is coming from natural gas, wind, solar, and other sources. In my area, 75% of the power comes from hydro-power. While not without its own problems, the carbon footprint is negligible and it is entirely domestically produced. Finally, using electricity for power gives you lots of flexibility. You can switch to better power sources as they come available. With gasoline, the best source are drilled out and the future sources get dirtier and more dangerous. Don't assume that EV owners haven't thought about the source of their transportation.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ZOZ
        Gasoline and natural gas sure as hell ain't zero pollution. A gas engine wastes 80% of it's input.. an electric *uses* 80% of the energy and wastes 20% of it. I don't know what the pollutant levels of coal VS oil is, but i kinda doubt that coal is 4 times dirtier :) And you know, there's always solar panels.. which do pay off about half their lifespan.. and the energy that goes into manufacturing / producing the panels is definitely offset versus just continuing to use fossil fuels. otherwise solar panels would be mind blowingly expensive, ya know.
      RC
      • 3 Years Ago
      Japan can follow after Germany and go 80% green by 2020.
      Bruce Lee
      • 3 Years Ago
      I like how this article has no actual author attributed to it, probably because the writing and editing is even more horrible than usual. "The ecologically friendly reputation of electric cars in Japan is taking a hit since last year's meltdowns of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant have made more people concerned about a primary source of electricity throughout the country, Bloomberg Businessweek reports." (run on, bizarre usage of different tenses, incorrect usage here of have since it would be used for plural reasons, and the fact that it sounds copied and pasted then sloppily reworded from Businessweek) "That said, electricity prices may spike expenses stemming from fixing the Fukushima plant increase. The higher cost might be the way EVs could get lumped together with nuclear energy in some consumers' minds." *sigh* Seriously guys, hire real writers or hire more editors.
      Seph
      • 3 Years Ago
      Exactly my point. I believe Nissan is now hot on the grill, since Leaf is not anymore suitable and marketable in japan. I believe that if Nissan wants to survive, they should send the technology and manufacturing of Leaf to Renault in France. In exchange, they should adopt Renault's technology gasoline and diesel engine. Let's face it. Internal combustion engines are more energy efficient than EV's current batteries. EV and Plug-in Hybrid cars are only marketable in countries that have nuclear plants, since there's an abundant electricity supply. In order to survive in Japan car makets, car makers should introduce more improved gasoline and diesel engine, and KERS. Since Toyota is now the head of the Japanese car makers lobby group, other car makers should convince Toyota to let them borrow the hybrid synergy drive at a moderate price, and let them install it in the cars that will be sold in Japan. They could also pursue a subsidy from the government in order to do this.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Seph
        Why is it not suitable or marketeable anymore? Do they not have electricity? The internal combustion engine is 20% efficient and the electric motor, from battery to the wheel is about 70% efficient, at absolute worst, all the way to 90% efficient at absolute best. An electric car makes sense anywhere you can generate renewable electricity. Solar will be coming down below the price of nuclear soon, and already pays off over the long term versus paying for utility electricity for 20-30 years.
      ebonyblazer
      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh look, Nissan's highest profile green machine isn't selling as hot as they thought it would. I guess right-wing bloggers and TTAC will seize upon this news, all with hearty guffaws similar to the ones shared over Chevy Volt production. I mean, they certainly wouldn't be taking a selective potshot at GM because of the bailout...and the fact that its GM, right?
      Generic
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is the crash test suppose to signify the crash and burn of the electric car? That seems like a odd and in poor taste picture for this write up on Japans electrical grid. I was hoping the Leaf would be a success, but I could never own it. It's simple just too ugly. I think Nissan needs to do an emergency mid gen refresh on this thing and make it look more like a normal car. Ultimately, I think ugly is killing sales more then electric range fear.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
    • Load More Comments