A joint research initiative for developing car engines will be led by the Research Association of Automobile Internal Combustion Engines (AICE), it was announced Monday.

The aim of consolidating the industry’s research into nonpolluting, fuel-efficient engines is to reduce development costs at each of the participating carmakers: Toyota Motor Corp., Honda R&D, Nissan Motor Co., Suzuki Motor Corp., Mazda Motor Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Daihatsu Motor Co., which will be working together with the Japan Automobile Research Institute.

AICE will help Japan’s carmakers strengthen their technical platforms as the burdens of environmental engineering climb, said AICE chief Keiji Otsu at a news conference in Tokyo.

“The level of the challenges automakers face has been rising in the field of carbon dioxide emission cuts and advanced emissions technology,” Otsu said. “And speed is required for technical development.”

AICE, established on April 1, will conduct both basic and applied research in the hopes of improving collaboration on R&D in corporate, academic and government circles.

The rising development burdens on each automaker is posing challenges in basic research, cultivation of human resources and execution, he said.

“On the other hand, there are many instances in Europe where automakers, suppliers, universities, research institutions and provincial governments work together to seek business solutions to problems each firm commonly faces,” Otsu said.

Japan’s carmakers decided to set up the organization after starting exploratory talks on sharing research on internal combustion engines in April 2012, based on precedents set in Europe, Otsu said.

“With this association as a hub, we will conduct basic and applied research to further improve internal combustion engines and address common tasks each company face by combining the expertise of carmakers, research and academic institutions,” Otsu said.

In addition, Otsu said that the association aims to use its activities to create a sustainable dialogue involving industry, government and academia to develop human resources.

Specific projects AICE will take on include advanced technology on “aftertreatment” for diesel engines and upgrading the combustion technology used in diesel and gasoline engines, Otsu said.

“In terms of reducing the environmental burden and securing competitiveness, it’s important (for Japanese companies) to introduce more high-performing clean diesel cars, which have spread mainly in Europe, to the markets early, considering the expected growth in emerging countries,” Otsu said.

The University of Tokyo, Waseda University, Hokkaido University and Kyoto University are among the academic institutions expected to collaborate with AICE, according to the association.

AICE’s operating costs for the business year ending next March are about ¥1 billion, which is covered by each member firm and subsidies from the industry ministry, Otsu said.

The fruits of the joint research will be utilized by each company, the association said.

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