Japanâ''s Nissan announced yesterday that it will provide free electric vehicles and help set up a network of charging stations in Wuhan, an industrial city in Central China on the Yangtze River. The pilot program, to be done in cooperation with Chinaâ''s Ministry of Industry and Information and the Wuhan municipal government, will be modeled on a similar project in the Japanese prefecture of Kanagawa, where Nissan is based. That program, according to a report several days ago in the Wall Street Journal, involves installing 1,000 charging stations by 2014.
Wuhan may not be a household name in the United States, but it was here, midway between Beijing in the North and Hong Kong and Guanzhou in the South, where the first vehicular bridge was built over the Yangtze in the mid-1950s. (Until then, believe it or not, there was no such bridge over the mighty river that bisects China, west to east.) Mao maintained a vacation retreat in Wuhan, complete with an indoor competition-size pool, and it was here that he swam the Yangtzeâ''several times actuallyâ''to demonstrate his continued health and prowess. (Yes, he really did.)
When it comes to electric cars, Chinaâ''s ambitions are of a grandiosity that would do Mao the neo-emperor proud. As noted here earlier this week, battery maker BYD has proclaimed its intention to become the worldâ''s leading electric car manufacturer. According to a report in todayâ''s New York Times, top government officials said at a conference yesterday that they hope to make the country as a whole the top global source of EVs and hybrids.