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While Still Seeing Role For Hydrogen, Japanese Carmakers Warm To EVS

While Still Seeing Role For Hydrogen, Japanese Carmakers Warm To EVS
While not really giving up on alternative technologies, showcasing concepts ranging from compact sportscars to all-wheel-drive mini SUVs at this week’s Tokyo Motor show, Japanese automakers are finally embracing electric cars.
Japanese manufacturers are talking up all-battery electric vehicles (EVs) at the annual gathering after years of investing in hydrogen fuel cells and electric-gasoline hybrids.
Amid improving technology that may make EV batteries a price-competitive option to gasoline engines in the coming years and rapidly tightening global emissions regulations, many are looking to catch up with global rivals.
“As far as green cars go, vehicle powertrain electrification is a must,” said Soichiro Okudaira, president of Daihatsu Motor Co, a fully owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp, which showed its concept of the “Pro Cargo” multi-use mini electric van at the show’s first media day on Wednesday .
“EV (technology) is a great match with small cars people use everyday to commute, go shopping, because it’s easy to charge and maintain.”
Pure EVs would be one of the “key solutions” for cleaner vehicles in the near future pure EVs would be one of the “key solutions” for cleaner vehicles in the near future, said even Toyota, the country’s largest automaker which set up an EV development team just a year ago.
Its view that the hydrogen fuel cell is the ultimate “green car” technology, is stil be held on to by the maker of the Mirai fuel cell vehicle (FCV).
Even though the cost and limited refuelling infrastructure pose challenges, FCVs are a potentially attractive option for larger vehicles because FCVs can refuel faster than an EV can recharge and can travel longer distances, analysts say.
the “Sora” fuel-cell bus, which will be launched next year and the six-seater “Fine-Comfort Ride” concept car are the two new FCVs at the show introduced by Toyota which underlines its point.
following Nissan Motor Co, Honda Motor Co on Wednesday announced it would launch a compact EV in Japan in 2020.
Some automakers and suppliers expect increased demand will boost EV sales within the next decade, lowering their price towards gasoline vehicles as advances in lithium ion battery technology improve charging times and lower production costs.
“We see this tipping point happening around 2025. By then for the customer to buy petrol or EV it will be practically same cost,” Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci said.
“And then ... if you have the same price for EVs and petrol why would you buy traditional technology?”
By developing its spark-ignition compression engine which it says could improve fuel economy by as much as 30 percent, smaller automaker Mazda Motor Corp continues to squeeze more efficiency out of gasoline engines, even while global automakers acknowledge the internal combustion engine may become obsolete in the coming decades.
The media reports on the death of the gasoline engine have been greatly exaggerated, argues many.
“Many in the media appear to be saying that EVs are going to take over the world, but given ongoing technology and cost limitations, it will be difficult for that to happen anytime soon,” Subaru Corp CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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