Great news for Japanese owners of electric cars like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf. Oil companies JX Nippon Oil, Idemitsu Kosan Co, Cosmo Oil Co. and Showa Shell Sekiyu KK are teaming up to test a fixed-fee EV charging service at their gas stations. 27 stations will be involved in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture starting in the first quarter of 2012.

The four companies have created what they call an “EV Service Station Network” where members can charge their plug-in EVs at a conventional petrol station alongside internal combustion engine powered cars.

Of the four, JX Nippon Oil currently has the most participating stations, and the company is looking at a monthly fee of ¥3,000 (RM122 at current exchange rates) for individuals and corporate card holders. Pay the fee and one can recharge their EV at any participating station.

Quick charging an EV will take considerably longer than a regular car, though, so the companies will offer “additional services” for EV chargers. This could probably be drinks, reading material and WIFI, like in service centres.

This is what we need to neutralise what the industry calls “range anxiety” in the acceptance of battery powered vehicles. But for non heavy users, a 100 km real world range will be enough to take one to work and back, in one single charge. Treat the EV like your power hungry smartphone and make a habit of charging it every night and you should be fine.

Closer to home, Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia has registered their first i-MiEV for awareness purposes and Edaran Tan Chong Motor will be launching a pilot program next year that offers experimental drives to Government bodies, members of the media as well as the public. Stay tuned for more updates on the green front!