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Critics name Atenza car of the year

Kyodo

Mazda Motor Corp.’s Atenza has won the car of the year award from the Automotive Researchers’ and Journalists’ Conference of Japan, the group said Wednesday.

The Atenza, known as the Mazda6 overseas, was chosen for its energy efficiency and fun driving experience, the organization of car critics said. A Mazda vehicle last won the award six years ago.

The fully remodeled Atenza released last November has sold around 24,000 units, double Mazda’s sales target. The diesel version has been particularly popular.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s Outlander PHEV, a plug-in hybrid vehicle, came in second.

Swedish manufacturer AB Volvo’s V40 hatchback won in the imported car division.

The nonprofit group, set up in 1991, selected the winners from among all vehicles marketed in Japan between Nov. 1, 2012, and Oct. 31 this year.

Subsidy for chargers

Toyota Motor Corp. and three other major automakers said they will jointly subsidize the installation of fast chargers for electric vehicles, providing up to ¥1.9 million to each business adding one of the units.

The amount, when combined with government aid, is believed to be enough to cover the cost of installation for most businesses, including gas stations and convenience stores.

Toyota, Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. are hoping to increase the number of fast chargers in Japan to 4,000 from about 1,900 now, and standard chargers, which require a longer period to recharge an electric vehicle, to 8,000 from 3,500.

The four will also provide up to ¥400,000 to a business installing a standard charger.