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Japan:Fuel-cell vehicle sales in reverse despite push

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry on Friday urged four ministries, itself included, to introduce more effective measures to promote the use of fuel-cell vehicles.

The ministry and the Economy, Trade and Industry, Construction and Transport, and Environment ministries, were told their policies have done nothing to encourage the spread of fuel-cell powered vehicles, as indicated by the fact there were only 42 such vehicles in use nationwide at the end of fiscal 2007, compared with 49 at the end of fiscal 2003, despite a total of about 19.7 billion yen set aside in budgetary appropriations for the development of this sector between fiscal 2004 and 2007.

Fuel-cell vehicles are powered by the electricity produced from the chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. They emit no carbon dioxide.

The government has set a goal of seeing 50,000 fuel-cell vehicles on the roads by the end of fiscal 2010. The four ministries have spent their budgets so far on vehicle research and development, testing a facility for refuelling with hydrogen, and government procurements.

June 27, 2009 - 9:39 PM
5 comments »
  • GS

    June 28, 2009 | 1:46 PM

    The only way the world will get fuel cell powered vehicles is to outlaw the
    internal combustion engine after 2014. All resources will then be put into
    hydrogen.

  • Mark Cervi

    June 29, 2009 | 3:23 PM

    Congress can pass all the laws they want, however laws of nature and economics will prevail. Maybe the world doesn’t have fuel cell vehicles for rational reasons.

  • Edward Greenlee CPA

    July 1, 2009 | 10:45 AM

    There are those that buy the Prius because the want to make a difference. Give me the alternative and I will buy a fuel cell auto. Why? If Hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth and the Universe, then it makes sense from a supply / demand perspective. With economies of scale it will become affordable. If at the end of the process it recombines into water, then isn’t it a renewable source? How much more independent and green can we get?

  • Nick Cook

    July 29, 2009 | 11:26 AM

    Re: Edward Greenlee’s comments

    Hydrogen is not an energy source, it is an energy carrier, you have to make the hydrogen from other chemicals (water electrolysis, methane reforming) using other forms of energy, which is not particularly efficient (~80%), then you have to transport it and store/compress it, also not particularly efficient (another 20%+ loss). Finally you have to convert the hydrogen back into electricity at ~50%. This gives a well to wheel efficiency of around 30-35%. For a battery vehicle well to wheel is of the order of 70%, HFCV & BEV both assume renewable electricity source.
    Once battery technology has improved a bit more in the next few years (i.e. reduced price and better capacity) hydrogen vehicles are unlikely to be competitive as the running costs of HFCVs will be double, possibly more, than that of BEVs.

  1. GS