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Analysis of Electromobility in Six Countries— Where to Invest Next

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Electromobility in Japan

Demand in Japan

Demand for electric cars is very low in Japan. Hybrids on the other hand are sold in high numbers. This won’t change over the next two to three years, even though there is growing interest in electrified commercial vehicles in the logistics sector. The country wants to promote domestic fuel cell technology, with the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 serving as a marketing platform.

The Japan Revitalization Strategy defined in 2015, envisages that next-generation cars will account for between 50 and 70 % of sales until 2030. Hybrid cars will play a dominant role in this process. With approximately 6.5 million units, HEVs account for more than 10 % of the total number of passenger cars. At the end of March 2017, the number of battery-powered cars amounted to 73,400. Toyota and Nissan are among the most important domestic suppliers of electric cars. Toyota is the dominant player in the hybrid vehicle segment, while Nissan is ahead in the Japanese market of BEVs.


Production in Japan

The introduction of strict electric car quotas in China has forced Japanese car manufacturers to change or accelerate their strategies. Toyota plans to cooperate with FAW and Guangzhou to develop a range of electric cars. Until 2030, 5.5 million (partly) electrified cars are to be sold worldwide. Meanwhile, Nissan is cooperating with Dongfeng. In February 2018, both companies announced that they would invest more than $ 9.5 billion in a joint venture. Production is expected to reach 2.6 million vehicles until 2022, of which around 30 % will be electric cars. Mitsubishi, on the other hand, is withdrawing from BEV production and has entered into a cooperation agreement with Renault-Nissan.

While the Japanese development strategy for e-vehicles focuses on foreign markets, efforts are being made to develop fuel cell technology in the domestic market. The government supports this strategy with the "Strategic Roadmap for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells", which provides for around 40,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles on Japan's roads by 2020. The target for 2025 is more than 200,000 units and, ten years later, more than 800,000 units. Two companies are at the forefront of fuel cell vehicle development in Japan: Toyota and Honda. Both companies already have a fuel-cell model on offer. Toyota has also developed a hydrogen bus that is going to be used in Tokyo.

Infrastructure in Japan

The number of charging stations is to be massively expanded over the next few years. Acceptance of electromobility in Japan is primarily a question of price, as well as of infrastructure and practicability. In addition, 320 hydrogen filling stations are to be set up throughout the country by 2025. At the end of the fiscal year 2016, the figure was 92 and the number of vehicles was around 1,800. However, with costs of up to $ 4.4 million, hydrogen filling stations are considerably more expensive than conventional fuel filling stations.

The charging infrastructure for both the electric and fuel cell drive systems has so far been financed mainly by public funds. The number of public charging stations was 27,800 at the end of 2016, including over 7,500 quick charging points. In the next few years, private actors intend to provide more support. In order to develop the general charging infrastructure, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is working on changing the regulations for the operation of filling stations allowing usual filling stations to set up charging stations.

An Interesting fact: Since fuel consumption in Japan is declining by one to two percent annually, the number of filling stations has dropped to just under 31,500. Twenty years ago, there were twice as many filling stations.


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