SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- DRIVETHEARC, a corridor of electric vehicle (EV) fast charging stations spanning from Monterey to Lake Tahoe, broke ground today with a ribbon cutting ceremony in El Dorado Hills, Calif. A joint international project promoted by Japan's largest public R&D management organization, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), under the agreement between NEDO and the State of California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, and in partnership with Nissan Motor Co., Nissan North America, Kanematsu and EVgo, DRIVETHEARC aims to increase the ease of long-distance EV travel along one of California's most important travel arteries while studying EV use and driving patterns through a smartphone app that will provide a user-friendly charging experience.
Announced at a press conference alongside the ribbon cutting ceremony at the DRIVETHEARC Station at Raley's in El Dorado Hills, Calif. - which will host four DRIVETHEARC EV fast chargers - dignitaries from NEDO, Nissan, Kanematsu, EVgo and various California state government offices gathered to share details of the fast charging corridor and its potential impact in forwarding EV adoption in California. The project to collect and analyze data will be completed in September 2020, while installation of the 50 fast chargers along the corridor is expected to be completed by March 2017. This will provide drivers with multiple fast charging points per site at the more than 20 high-traffic locations that are part of the project. "NEDO is committed to its best efforts to realize the objective of the demonstration project with Go-Biz and other California government agency (CEC, CARB, CalEPA, CPUC) support, EVgo's cooperation as the local partner, and through Nissan and Kanematsu's expertise and partnership in the execution of this project," said Makoto Watanabe, Executive Director of NEDO. "We would like to contribute to solving environmental problems by promoting EV use, which will lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and truly hope that we will be able to help create sustainable EV societies in the future." An integrated international cooperation, NEDO is funding the DRIVETHEARC corridor as part of its mission to improve energy conservation and promote new energy technologies, as well to help facilitate government relations, research and information exchange between the U.S. and Japan. In partnership with Kanematsu, a DRIVETHEARC smartphone app is also in development and will provide users with key real-time convenience features such as navigation to charging stations within cruising range and will help reduce charge waiting times with charger vacancy information. Captured driving stats will be available to users, and Nissan, Kanematsu, EVgo and NEDO will analyze and measure charger use patterns to better inform future EV charging projects globally. "This network of convenient fast-charging stations will make it easier for more consumers to choose fun-to-drive and economical electric cars," said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. "NEDO's investment in DRIVETHEARC will make intercity EV travel a breeze, and by putting more zero-emission vehicles onto our roads and highways, will help California meet our clean air and climate targets." "We are incredibly excited to see the DRIVETHEARC project come to life, executing the MOU signed by NEDO and GO-Biz to help build an infrastructure that supports California's ambitious goal of putting 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025," said GO-Biz director Panorea Avdis. "We commend NEDO, Nissan, EVgo and Kanematsu for their commitment, collaboration, and execution and look forward to continuing our work together to build the California ZEV market." As the global leader in EV sales, Nissan is also partnering in DRIVETHEARC as part of the automaker's 'Infrastructure for All' strategy. Nissan has played a leading role in growing the number of EV fast charging stations in the U.S. from 250 stations in 2013, to an anticipated 2,000 stations by 2017. This provides Nissan LEAF drivers with access to the largest metro area network of fast charging stations in the country. The DRIVETHEARC corridor enhances the existing EV infrastructure Nissan has supported as part of its No Charge to Charge promotion, by connecting the metro areas of Monterey, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. "Nissan is determined to widely spread EV use to help benefit the environment on global basis. The U.S. is among the top markets in the world for EV sales, and California represents a staggering 40 percent of all EV sales in the country, making the state the catalyst for furthering the adoption of EVs into the future," said Hitoshi Kawaguchi, Chief Sustainability Officer of Nissan Motor. "An adequate public charging network is one of the key factors for EV expansion. Northern California has a diverse geography but until now did not possess a true inter-city EV fast charging network. We are excited to implement this network and study EV use in Northern California so that we can apply the lessons we learn to future fast charging network projects around the world." As a global trading house with expertise in the electronics and information technologies business, Kanematsu has been collaborating with Nissan and EVgo to release the new DRIVETHEARC smartphone app. The DRIVETHEARC smartphone app is designed for the DRIVETHEARC stations and the EVgo stations. It navigates EV drivers to optimal stations based on cruising range and charging station status. The app enables EV drivers to monitor the real-time status of the charging stations, select an appropriate station, and charge their EVs using the app's authorization process or conventional payment authorization methods. The EV cruising range feature based on NissanConnect Data Link Service will be available in the spring of 2017.