Increasing the uptake of electric car rentals in Japan - case study

Researchers at the Cambridge Service Alliance have suggested new ways of increasing the uptake of electric car usage.

A new paper on a pioneering electric vehicle (EV) rental service for holidaymakers in Okinawa, Japan found that low usage has led to a loss for the car rental companies. It is one of the first EV rental projects of its kind in the world and aims to help improve the environmental sustainability of tourism on the island of Okinawa.


The search for alternative fuels to reduce car CO2 emissions is an important part of the climate change challenge. In Japan 18 per cent of total CO2 emissions are caused by road transportation, in the EU it is around 12 per cent


The paper, Electric vehicle rental services: Project in Okinawa, Japan, concludes: “The Okinawa EV rental service at the end of its first three-year operational phase in 2013, missed its initial targets. Low usage rates mean rental companies are making a loss. Customers worry about insufficient recharging infrastructure. Sales of used rental cars are low.”


PhD researcher Claire Weiller, the report's author, said: “By adopting an ecosystems approach we can look at all the companies that are involved in providing this service and that affect the outcome of this service. For instance, we found there was a lack of information sharing between them all.


“If the customer worries about whether they will be able to drive from the airport on the south of the island to the beaches on the north of the island, and there is no-one in the value chain able to answer that question they will not feel reassured about the rental service. An ecosystems approach can change that.”    


Professor Andy Neely, Director of the Cambridge Service Alliance, said: “All the partners involved need to think about how to capture value from the information they have in order to serve the customer better.”


Download the report here.

Date published

3 February 2014

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