TOKYO, June 2 Japan's postal services system is
looking to switch its entire fleet of about 21,000 short-distance
delivery vehicles to zero-emission electric cars starting this
business year, it said on Monday.
"We're discussing the feasibility with automakers and battery
makers to that end," said a spokesman at Japan Post Service Co,
the mail delivery unit of Japan Post Group.
Depending on how fast the cars and necessary infrastructure
such as recharging stations could be ready, the company may use
some gasoline-electric hybrid cars in the interim, he said.
Among Japanese automakers, Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T),
Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd (7270.T) and Nissan Motor
Co (7201.T) are aggressively developing electric cars, which emit
little to no harmful emissions but require large loads of
batteries to drive relatively short distances. The time required
to recharge the batteries is also a hurdle with current
All three automakers have said they aim to commercialise
electric cars by 2010.
Shares of vehicle-use battery makers surged after the Nikkei
business daily reported Japan Post's plan on Monday. Furukawa
Battery Co (6937.T) surged 16 percent, GS Yuasa Corp (6674.T),
which has a battery joint venture with Mitsubishi Motors, jumped
7 percent, and Sanyo Electric Co 6764.T put on 5.6 percent.
Hitachi Maxell Ltd (6810.T) gained 6.5 percent. A spokesman
there confirmed a Nikkei evening edition report that it is aiming
to commercialise a longer-lasting, cheaper lithium-ion battery in
the next three to four years that substitutes expensive cobalt
Shares of Mitsubishi Motors rose 3.7 percent while Fuji Heavy
gained 1.4. Nissan lagged the sector with a 0.9 percent rise.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Editing by Michael Watson)