Following similar commitments by several nations, Japan is planning to phase out the sale of gas and diesel-engined cars by 2035. Government officials announced the plan as part of an agenda that the Prime Minister set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades, NHK reported.
However, this plan still permits hybrid sales, more or less mirroring China’s treatment of hybrids and EVs as New Energy Vehicles. So it won’t be a true ban on internal combustion engines. Several other nations have contemplated a ban, and some of them are farther along on EV adoption rates.
Japanese automakers are also expected to produce gas- and diesel-engined cars well after this date, for export to other countries.
Curiously enough, not all Japanese automakers have embraced pure-electric vehicles over the past decade, with the exception of Nissan. Other major automakers like Toyota have preferred to focus on hybrids while Mazda and Honda have only recently launched EVs, but on a fairly limited scale. Some smaller Japanese automakers are not rushing into this field either, and despite Toyota’s long-running Prius family the automaker is still betting on hydrogen fuel-cell technology after downplaying battery-electric vehicles for much of the past decade.
So despite having a massive car industry, especially one aimed at exports, many of Japan’s automakers are still on the fence when it comes to pure EVs, preferring to wait until technology and demand advances to a certain stage. This doesn’t discount Japanese automakers’ focus on hybrids, of course, but even when it comes to hybrids embracing such vehicles has not been universal.
Putting automakers aside, Japan faces some other hurdles transitioning to a hybrid and EV fleet by 2035, as well as in reducing greenhouse gases. As a nation with a massive manufacturing base it has already seen some pushback from heavy industry on climate targets. Industry groups had been lobbying against reducing greenhouse gases for years and are expected to continue to do so, even aside from the car-related targets expected to be announced by the government by year end. Steel producers, petrochemical giants and manufacturers of building materials, as well as the shipping industry, have all voiced opposition to similar initiatives over the years.
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