Japanese Vending Machines: Buy a Pop and Charge Your Car

Mar 8, 2011· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
Want some electricity to go with that soft drink? (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

Known through the world mostly as a pit stop for sugar-craved teenagers, the vending machine has decided to add a different kind of juice to its menus in Japan: electricity.

Ten Japanese companies have banded together to install 10,000 electric vehicle chargers at the sites of vending machines starting at the end of March, reports AFP.

That good start could reach a significantly wide audience thanks to the scope of one of the plan’s largest participants—Forking Co., which has business ties to 1.2 million vending machines.

Heralded as a way to wean humanity off of fossil fuels, the electric vehicle (EV) movement has its detractors. "Range anxiety"—fretting about running out of electricity between charging stations—is a common feeling for many consumers pondering the purchase of an EV.

Despite that sentiment, J.D. Power estimates that by 2015 the market for hybrid gas-electric and all-electric vehicles will surpass 3 million units a year, or about 3.4 percent of global light-vehicle sales, reports the New York Times.

The notion of plentiful and convenient EV charging stations is not peculiar to the Japanese.

Several U.S. companies are experimenting with EV stations, reports The Huffington Post:

Cracker Barrel, a restaurant and store chain proud of its old-fashioned style, has recently launched a pilot project to install electric vehicle chargers at 24 Tennessee restaurants. McDonalds unveiled one of their first restaurants with a car charging station back in 2009. Half-Price Books installed Dallas-Forth Worth’s first station last year, and encouraged drivers to shop while waiting for the charger. Starwood Hotels offers charging stations at some of their Element hotel sites.