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2015-02-17 10:46

FUEL-CELL FUTURE: Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe drives Toyota's new commercial fuel-cell vehicle, the Mirai, from his office in Tokyo. Image: AP / Eugene Hoshiko.

TOKYO, Japan - Japan now has more battery-car plug-in charging point than fuel stations.

The country's No.2 automaker, Nissan, says there are 40 000 plug points - including those at private homes - in Japan compared to 34 000 fuel stations.

Hardly a fair comparison, given that fuel stations each serve hundreds of vehicles a day, but whatever - hence the report continues...

NISSAN BATTERY, TOYOTA HYDROGEN

While fuel stations have multiple pumps and can service many more cars the comparison does underscore the effort being made to boost green-vehicle infrastructure in Japan, long a leader in a sector that remains globally tiny.

Nissan is betting on growing demand for battery cars while rival Toyota has, it says, been swamped by orders for its first mass-market hydrogen fuel-cell car, the Mirai sedan.

Fuel-cell cars are seen as the Holy Grail of green cars as they are powered by a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, which emits only water vapour from its exhaust.

However limited driving range and lack of refuelling stations have hampered development of the green-car sector which, environmentalists say, could play a vital role in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and slowing global warming.

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