Until now, the EV charging station sector has been dominated by high-profile start-ups like Coulomb Technologies and Better Place. Toyota, determined not be left out of what promises to be a booming business, has decided to build charging stations of its own. And in what appears to be an attempt to one-up its competitors, Toyota wants its stations to be solar-powered.
Toyota's solar station, which was on display at this week's Tokyo Motor Show, features storage batteries, a communications system and a slew of solar cells capable of generating 100 to 200 volts of electricity. Whether Toyota's solar cells could provide enough power to juice up a vehicle in real-world conditions remains up in the air, and the company is certainly hedging its bets—Toyota released a non-solar powered EV charging station in Japan a few months ago.
It's still unclear whether Toyota, Nissan, or a company from the stable of EV charging startups will land on top. The winner(s) will slowly emerge over the next few years as plug-in vehicles start rolling off production lines. Until then, it's all guesswork.