TOKYO – Japan said it planned to stop selling new gasoline-powered cars in the mid-2030s, resisting criticism from Toyota Motor Body
chief that a hasty move to electric vehicles could paralyze the auto industry.
The plan released on Friday followed similar measures by the state of California and major European nations, but met with resistance from auto executives in a country that still makes millions of cars annually running exclusively on gasoline engines.
Japan would still allow the sale of gas-electric hybrid cars after 2035 according to the plan. Many models from Japan’s leading car manufacturers – Toyota, Honda Motor Co.
and Nissan Motor Co.
—Coming in traditional and hybrid versions.
Earlier this month, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said that if Japan were too hasty to ban gasoline-powered cars and switch to electric cars, “the current auto industry business model will collapse.” He spoke on behalf of Japanese automakers in his role as head of a local industrial association.
Toyoda said the power grid could not meet the extra summer demand and noted that most of Japan’s electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels.
Government officials said automakers need to review their business models. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pointed to a different part of Toyoda’s comments in which the Toyota chief said he supported the government’s goal of making Japan carbon neutral by 2050. Reducing carbon emissions “should be approached as a growth strategy, not as a limitation on growth, ”said Suga.
The government’s plan calls for all new cars sold in Japan from the mid-2030s to be electrified. This includes electric vehicles, hybrid gas-electric models and cars whose electricity is generated by hydrogen fuel cells. The plan says that the cost of batteries should be reduced so that electric vehicles cost almost the same as gas-powered vehicles a decade from now.
A draft plan released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry expressed concern that Europe and China are ahead of Japan. He noted that sales of EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles more than tripled in the European Union. in the July to September quarter to around 270,000 units, while the equivalent number for Japan was just 6,000.
Masayoshi Arai, a ministry official, said “Japan is way behind” in electrifying vehicles.
Japanese automotive executives are angered by such statements, saying that more gas-electric hybrid vehicles are sold in Japan than in any other country. Some question whether fully electric vehicles, such as those made by Tesla Inc.
they are more environmentally friendly than hybrids, given the carbon dioxide emitted in the production of EVs and their parts.
“It is absolutely not the case that Japan is left behind,” said Toshihiro Mibe, a Honda executive who heads an environmental technology industry board.
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