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A 100% Electric Holiday: EV Car-sharing in Rural Japan

Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture – August 4 – Regional inns such as Chitose and Isen in northern Japan have begun offering car-sharing services in cooperation with Nissan Rent-a-Car and Japan Travel Bureau (JTB).

Kazunari Yanagi, Sr. Vice President at Chitose, says EVs are a perfect fit for the hot spring environment.

“Matsunoyama Onsen was formed in this northern region of Japan some 12 million years ago, a town with medicinal hot springs. Our inn, Chitose, has been here for 110 years,” he said.

“Matsunoyama is a particularly hot onsen and spring water nears 98 degrees Celcius, and can produce electricity. We thought that EV car-sharing with the Nissan LEAF would be a good fit for our patrons.”

EV car-sharing allows inn patrons to book on-line and receive IC cards at check in for touring in the region.

“This region is equal in size to the 23 wards of Tokyo and hosts an Arts Festival. Those visiting can – over lunchtime – charge their EV here or at multiple locations across the region,” Yanagi said.

Tomohiro Iguchi, President of Isen Co. and head of the Snow Country Tourism Association says rail travel is complemented by the EV car-sharing service.

“Near Isen, the bullet train station is very close, and visitors come from Tokyo in about an hour,” he said.

“We currently have an Arts Festival this summer, but we actively try to preserve and promote the Snow Country culture, and the natural environment that we want visitors to experience. Thus, this combination of Nissan EV car-sharing and regional promotion is a good mix.”

The number of electric chargers in Japan has rapidly grown with estimates that the nation boasts more chargers than gas stations.

Takayuki Kuroiwa, JTB Eco-Market Producer, says expansion is currently under way.

“JTB is installing some 1,620 regular electric chargers by August at over 1,000 domestic sites.”

“Merits for travelers are the ease of EV use as well as their environmentally-friendly qualities. Another is that the electric chargers are often near JR rail stations, offering mobility for regional travel by EVs.”

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