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Following Pressure From Toyota's CEO, Japan Emphasises Its Support For Hybrid Vehicles

Following Pressure From Toyota's CEO, Japan Emphasises Its Support For Hybrid Vehicles
Toyota Motor Corp.'s CEO pressed the Japanese government to make it clear that it backed hybrid vehicles as much as battery electrics or risk losing support from the auto sector, a top politician told a governing party conference.
The lobbying by Toyota President Akio Toyoda and Chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) comes as the automaker has come under increased scrutiny from green investors who claim it has been slow to embrace battery-electric vehicles and has lobbied governments to slow the transition.
According to allegations based on meeting notes and audio, Akira Amari, a former industry minister and veteran member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), proposed modifications to the government's annual economic strategy roadmap during a June 3 meeting, claiming he had met with Toyoda the day before.
The final version of the document featured a reference to "so-called electric-powered vehicles," which looked to put fossil-fuel burning hybrids on equal footing with zero-emission battery vehicles, despite environmentalists' claims to the contrary.
"I spoke with Chairman Toyoda yesterday and he said that JAMA cannot endorse a government that rejects hybrids," Amari told the policy meeting of LDP lawmakers, according to the notes and audio quoted in the reports.
The use of synthetic fuel, like as hydrogen, would make hybrids "100% clean energy" vehicles, according to Amari, and the policy text should make it clear.
"If we don't make that clear, JAMA will push back with all its might," Amari said, according to the notes and audio.
"If we don't say that hybrids are included in the category of electric vehicles, that won't look good," he said, adding that a reference to electric-powered vehicles should be changed to "so-called electric-powered vehicles".
According to Amari, he requested the inclusion of "so-called" to emphasise that electric vehicles were not restricted to battery-electric vehicles but also included hybrids. He stated that he requested no other adjustments.
He confirmed speaking with Toyoda.
"What Mr. Toyoda is trying to say is that hybrids running with synthetic fuels are good for the environment because they are extremely fuel efficient. He said he would be extremely unsatisfied if hybrids were rejected. That's what he told me. He asked if the LDP were rejecting hybrids and I said that we were doing no such thing."
According to Amari, by creating synthetic fuels, automakers will be able to produce zero-emission internal combustion engines. He believes that such fuels could be utilised in aeroplanes that cannot run on battery power.
JAMA told the media that the auto sector was working hard to achieve its aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. It was crucial to diversify possibilities and not be constrained to specific technology because the goal was carbon neutrality, according to the report.
It was also vital to respond to different situations and customer needs in each country and region, according to the reports.
The final version of the paper, which is now available online, refers to Japan's 2035 aim of all new domestic auto sales being "so-called electric-powered vehicles," and particularly references hybrids in the main text.
An earlier draught from May 31, also available online, only mentions hybrids in a footnote. The primary paragraph mentions the 2035 goal of having all new automobile sales be "electric-powered vehicles."
The yearly policy paper is critical to the government since it serves as a framework for future policies.
Toyota, the world's largest carmaker by sales, has stated that the problem is with fossil fuels, not internal combustion engines.
Along with hybrids, which it popularised with the Prius more than two decades ago, it also promotes hydrogen technology, which has yet to catch on in the same way that battery-electric vehicles have.
According to data from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, hybrids, including plug-in hybrids, accounted for over 44 percent of new passenger cars sold in Japan last year, while battery electric vehicles accounted for less than 1 per cent.
This excludes minicars, trucks, and buses.
Think tank on energy and climate Toyota has been rated the worst among major manufacturers for its lobbying record on climate policy, which includes public statements and interactions with governments, according to InfluenceMap.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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