ITOCHU Announces Research and Development of a Battery Swapping Electric Truck to Facilitate the Shift of Commercial Automobiles to EVs

September 21, 2021

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter "ITOCHU") today announced that it had applied for a project being run by the Ministry of the Environment, and been awarded the contract. The project is intended to perform a demonstration of sector coupling by developing a battery swapping electric vehicle using renewable energy. In this demonstration project, ITOCHU and its partner companies will facilitate the shift of commercial automobiles to EVs through the development of battery swapping electric trucks, the battery packs to be installed on these trucks and battery swapping stations, with the goal of decarbonizing logistics networks.

1. Purpose of this project

The Japanese government's goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As transport accounts for approximately 40% of total CO2 emissions, the decarbonization of logistics networks is essential. However, electric vehicles (EV) face issues such as cruising range, charging time, charging infrastructure and price. When it comes to commercial vehicles that tend to travel longer distances, the operation of chargers is especially challenging because time is needed to charge batteries, which is hindering the shift of commercial automobiles to EVs.
In addition, the maximization of the use of renewable energy is necessary to achieve the government's goal, but the widespread use of renewable energy is limited by the high expense of power storage, which provides the capability to regulate supply. Although it is essential for local disaster-preparedness facilities to have an emergency power source, they must reduce costs while maintaining necessary and sufficient functionality.
Given this background, this project's goals are to promote the shift of commercial automobiles to EVs by developing battery swapping trucks and to utilize renewable energy in the establishment of a decarbonized mobility and logistics model that can ensure sustainability and contribution to community.

2. Demonstration project outline

The following four partner companies will participate in this project with ITOCHU: Isuzu Motors Limited, JFE Engineering Corporation, HKS CO., LTD. and FamilyMart Co., Ltd. Battery swapping electric trucks, battery packs and battery swapping stations will be developed through participation in the commissioned project publicly announced by the Ministry of the Environment, and in the demonstration project, the developed truck will be operated as a delivery vehicle for FamilyMart, making deliveries from the FamilyMart Combined Distribution Center (in Misato City) for rice-based and chilled products in Saitama Prefecture to individual FamilyMart stores.

Demonstration outline

Demonstration period From the second half of FY2022 to the end of FY2024 (plan)
Route of travel From FamilyMart Combined Distribution Center (in Misato City) in Saitama Prefecture to individual FamilyMart stores
Vehicle Battery swapping electric truck
Theme Decarbonization of logistics networks
- Promotion of the shift to electric trucks
- Verification of the convenience/cost competitiveness of battery swapping electric trucks
Use of renewable energy/regional BCP
- Charging of batteries using renewable energy
- Role of vehicle/station as a source of electricity in disaster

3. Division of roles among the participating companies

Company Role
ITOCHU Overall project management and feasibility study
Isuzu Motors Development of a battery swapping electric truck
JFE Engineering Development of battery swapping station
HKS Development of battery pack
FamilyMart Provision of demonstration field

ITOCHU has established the basic policy, "Enhancing our contribution to and engagement with the SDGs through business activities" in its medium-term management plan "Brand-new Deal 2023".
Through these activities, ITOCHU will contribute to decarbonization of logistics network and aim to solve issues for the realization of a sustainable society.