Late last month, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres sang the praises of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s plan to reduce Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 and expressed hope that the country’s technological advances will help reduce its dependency on fossil fuels for energy.
Naturally, emission-free vehicles will play a large role in reaching that target. The thing is, while charging stations are plentiful and Japanese carmakers are leading in certain sectors, the domestic appetite for EVs is still relatively niche. In fact, Honda only plans to sell 1,000 of its new Honda e cars in Japan, compared with the 10,000 units it intends to sell in Europe.
But if Japan plans to keep exporting automobiles to the rest of the world, especially in early-adopting regions, it needs to raise its E game.
So not surprisingly, in line with Suga’s ambitious target and in the wake of a similar announcement from China, it was recently learned that the government will soon (end of this year?) announce a major decision to ban sales of new gasoline-only cars in the mid-2030s. “If this is indeed a Japan-wide decision and it really happens, it will definitely provide a new demand stream for power and it will be good news for utilities,” one energy analyst predicted.
Another measure that may help jump-start consumer interest is larger subsidies for both individual and corporate purchase of EVs. At ¥800,000, they will be double the current subsidies. There’s one slight catch, though: Only cars charged with renewable energy will qualify for the subsidies. And considering that over 75% of Japan’s electricity still comes from coal, liquified natural gas and oil, that narrows down the options a bit more.
Also of note on the EV scene: Nissan, which has led the way in Japan with its Leaf line, now has its sights on a new demographic. Last month it was learned that the Yokohama-based automakers is in talks with Hercules, a Detroit start-up that specializes in clean-powered trucks.