Imagine A World Where Electric Cars Rule: Go To Goto

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
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imagine a world where electric cars rule go to goto

The remote Goto Islands in the East China Sea, about 60 miles west off the port city of Nagasaki are turning into the world’s laboratory for massive EV deployment. The islands used to be known for heir unspoiled nature and their old churches. Soon, they’ll be know as the island of EVs. That because of a large-scale pilot project that began on the islands in April.

The islands are ideal for such an experiment. Range anxiety? The largest island of the Goto group, Fukue, measures some 16 miles across. If you really want to test the range of an EV, go to Nakadori island. 25 miles long and usually not more than 5 miles wide. The islands have an aging and falling population, gasoline prices are high. The cost of bringing gas to the island results in the islands having some of the highest gasoline prices in Japan. Electricity is cheap, brought in by undersea cable from the mainland.

What Fukue lacks in size, Fukue makes up in charging stations. Says The Nikkei [sub]: “While there are still only 150 rapid electric chargers in Japan, in June the islands will have 15, provided by the prefecture. In September, a new tourism information service will begin using the Intelligent Transportation System. No other place in the world has such a well-developed electric transport infrastructure.” By late March 100 of the plug-ins had arrived. A quarter of the island’s rentals are already electric cars, usually Mitsubishi i-MiEVs.

The electric rentals are popular. They cost the same as a gasoline powered car. The electricity is subsidized by local governments, so renters can charge-up free of charge.

Goto turns into a (fairly) big beta test site for EVs. Drivers complain about the chargers. “Too heavy!” “The plug won’t go in!” “The instructions are mystifying.”

The rapid charger uses high voltage that comes through a hefty able. Two levers must be operated. An assistant is standing by to help, but it’s already clear that the charger needs a work-over. Plugging it in requires handling two levers. It takes some practice to use. The city has a worker at each charging station to help, but improvements will be necessary, especially as more charging stations are built.

The people of Goto meet regularly for brainstorming sessions on how to improve the system. Like with portable generators, in case someone ran out of juice. Or to equip the chargers with the nattering voice instructions that are so popular in Japan.

Anyway, if your company is in the EV business, then you absolutely must put in for a trip to Goto Island. I hear, the beaches are nice, and summer would be the best season. Fly to Nagasaki, then take an island hopper, or the ferry.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Don1967 Don1967 on Jun 11, 2010

    An entire island of electric cars sounds wonderful, especially when the coal-fired power plant which supplies it is located on a different island.

  • Bertel Schmitt June 11th, 2010 at 11:34 am No, but the next generation of smaller cars will be called “GOSUB” - Dear Lord, that made me choke! :) - Seems small islands are a good test case for any alternative technology or fuel source... some are going for biofuels... others... well... with an island 25 miles long... I can't help but think cycling would be a rather easy solution...

  • MaintenanceCosts So there is no Sonata trim without some type of Theta engine.It seems like they've been doing a bit better when attached to a hybrid system, so that's probably the one to get, but they're going to have to go several years without further engine troubles before I'd trust a H/K ICE product again.
  • Lou_BC Full sized sort of autonomous RC's. Cute.
  • Art_Vandelay Autonomous capabilities are being deployed (or planned anyway) in multiple combat vehicles. Should be fun from my perspective
  • Drew8MR Interior is trivial now you can get repro everything in various levels of quality. Getting the top sorted will be a couple grand, but I'd drive it as it. I drove a $1500 67 GTO convertible for 20 years, not every old car needs to be like new.
  • John Not everyone pays that much for power. Mine is 10 cents per kw…..