After focusing primarily on hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles in the past, Japan is increasingly branching out in EV technologies. In early 2018, several Japanese vehicle manufacturers joined the newly founded company EV C.A. Spirit Corporation. The venture, established by Toyota, Mazda, and Denso, is an agreement among Japan’s top automotive players to collaborate on affordable electric vehicle technologies to catch up with international rivals’ development of battery-powered cars.
Increasing consumer acceptance
In order to better cater to the country’s particular characteristics, such as limited space, an aging society, and an increase in single households, the Japanese automotive industry is now opting for a niche approach to electric vehicles: minicars, also known as kei cars in Japan. Domestic car brands are trying to make EV technology more accessible by keeping the initial costs of otherwise pricey eco-tech low. Pairing e-mobility with a unique, yet highly popular and affordable vehicle type might bring the long-desired result of an increased EV adoption rate among a rather reluctant customer base.
The purchase of an electric vehicle was only considered by a small percentage of Japanese consumers, mainly due to the comparably high price point, but also due to an apparent lack of charging stations within the country. The Japanese government took action by subsidizing equipment and installation expenses for charging stations to support local governments, highway operators, and other stakeholders in further developing the domestic e-mobility infrastructure. With improved infrastructure available, a greater share of consumers in Japan would be willing to invest in the purchase of an electric vehicle, if the state offered additional incentives. Among those, tax rebates and subsidies were the most appealing motivators.