Today Toyota, Nissan and Honda announced they’d jointly assist the Japanese government in doing their part of a strategic plan to increase the number of hydrogen refueling stations.
The three automakers have not yet determined precise capital expenditures and specific measures, but the agreement is in keeping with a domestic plan announced in June 2014 called the Strategic Road Map for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.
As Toyota phrases it in a press release, “FCVs are expected to play a central role in the drive towards establishing a hydrogen society.”
But lacking infrastructure, the Japanese government established a game plan to bring this paradigm change about. Naturally, this collaboration will benefit the Japanese automakers which the government in turn sees as benefiting a “hydrogen society.”
To overcome the proverbial chicken-and-egg issue will of course take money, and to spur demand the Japanese government is paving the way with subsidies, a range of supportive policies, and subsidies of the stations themselves.
To date, Honda, which is also working with General Motors which has no for-sale FCVs announced, has been offering production fuel cell cars the longest with its FCX Clarity since 2008. In December 2014 Toyota launched its Mirai sedan in Japan, and Nissan, while it is working with Daimler and Ford, has yet to introduce an FCV passenger car.
The cooperative agreement between government and industry thus sees this early announcement with details to follow. The move is not unlike other initiatives in other regions, including California where at least Toyota and Honda are making inroads with plans to proliferate as able.
The so-called “road map” is not to be confused with a geographical map in Japan. It was established by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) after a council organized for the agenda was established December 2013.
The term “Hydrogen Society” is not a Toyota marketing term only, but the same is used by METI in mapping out fuel cell energy for numerous other uses besides cars, including household energy.
METI says in a document it is focused on time periods needed to tackle “technical challenges and for securing economic efficiency,” and chose to break the plan into three phases:
Phase 1: Expanding the scope of applications for fuel cell technology, e.g., fuel cells for households and fuel cell vehicles (which have been brought into use recently), and aiming to achieve dramatic energy conservation as well as acquiring a new global market (scheduled to begin in 2014);
Phase 2: In terms of the supply side measures, establishing a system for supplying hydrogen using unconventional energy resources imported from other countries, while, for the demand side, aiming to enhance energy security measures, keeping an eye on full-fledged introduction of hydrogen power generation (time frame: putting the technology into practice by the late 2020s); and
Phase 3: Targeting the establishment of a carbon-dioxide-free hydrogen supply system using renewable and other energy (time frame: putting the technology into practice around 2040).
That’s the plan for Japan’s government. Specifics on how many stations, where they’ll be, and how much Toyota, Nissan and Honda will respectively pay will be announced at a later date.
For an English translation of the outline summary of the Strategic Road Map for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells issued by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, click here.