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Japan Planning Even Tougher Fuel Economy Requirements

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Japan will implement regulations requiring automakers to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles by about 20% by 2015.

Japan has decided that the regulations—which would be the world’s strictest, and may be introduced by spring 2007—are required to meet greenhouse has reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

According to the paper, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Transport will set up a committee as early as this month to put together a draft proposal for gasoline and diesel vehicles, including hybrid-electric models.

The government is considering demanding 20-25% reductions over fiscal 2004 levels by fiscal 2015. As a result, the mileage of cars that are currently required to travel 15km on a liter of gas [6.67 l/100 km or 35.3 mpg US] would have to be upgraded to more than 18km per liter [5.56 l/100km or 42.3 mpg US]. The tougher standards would apply to vehicles that are sold in fiscal 2015. Currently owned autos would not be subject to the new rules.

Current Japan’s fuel economy regulations require that all automakers improve the fuel economy of gasoline vehicles by about 23% by fiscal 2010 from the level in fiscal 1995. Targets are set according to weight. The new rules would increase the number of categories for passenger cars to 15-20 from nine at present, according to the report.




It doesn't sound too bad. 20% improvement over 2004 cars by 2015 - I think the Japanese motor industry can and will easily achieve that. BUt it is good to keep the pressure up with regulation.
If the price of fuel decreased and MPG depended on market forces alone, the motor companies might cool off on MPG.
Regulation will keep them keen.


Could this also be a savy way to make sure that their own car manufacturers remain dominant in Japan?


... or could it be a push on their carmakers to further develop fuel efficient transportation... thus maintaining & widening Japan's lead over the rest of the world's auto manufacturers?


... or both?

Bike Commuter Dude

...or it could be totally unrelated to economics at any level, and be more dependent on Japanese dedication to the "greater good"? Perhaps they took the long look, did some math, and realized that the value of all the planet's ecosystems is approximately $33 trillion (USD), dwarfing the global GNP of $18 trillion (USD). If that is the case, the Japanese realize that even great civilizations throughout history (such as the Roman Empire)have failed due to exhaustion of their primary energy regime (agriculture and plunder to the Romans; fossil fuels to modern industrial societies). Or, maybe they took an introductory physics class and learned about the second law of thermodynamics, which dictates that we cannot continue to follow the path that we (Americans) are currently pursuing. Either way, the money they save on fossil fuels will undoubtably be used to leverage/dominate many industries well into the future. The American attitude of impatience and cost/benefit analysis is far too short sided to work in the long run, and unfortunately, America shows no signs of learning from the Japanese in any redeeming way.

Bike Commuter Dude

Oh yeah, try walking somewhere for once you illiterate, obese, bunch of credit-card-wielding, fast food absorbing, Starbuck's swilling, monetarily driven, self-serving, unsympathetic, unhuman, hatred filled peons (myself included).


Dude: what side of whose bed did you wake up on? :) Never went to bed with an ugly woman ...
If they can keep their leed by building better cars, more power to em.


Neil, Matt, Stormy, Bike Commuter Dude,
Kyoto GHG treaty was signed in Japan. Air pollution from burning fossil energy, mostly for transportation, is a big issue. They have realised the cost of other forms of pollution, and the many benefits of protecting nature.
__Most of their cities are seaports, and/or on river basins near sea level. They go through typhoons every year. As their society ages, they need to keep the high tech, high margin, and high end export/corporate gravy train running, to remain economically and financially afloat.
__They do not have much in the way of natural resources. Offshore oil/gas remains frought with geopolitical issues, esp with PRC and Iran. Currently, much of their crude oil/LNG/coal, and other natural resource imports run through choke points. They also run past/near the PRC, pirate infested waters, and the Persian Gulf. Japan is dependant on secure sea lanes for their surivial, as a wealthy sovereign state. For the Japanese, it is no less than a matter of national security.


This is a no-brainer.
Japanes hybrid production is rising exponentially. This mandate will not affect them at all.
This just ensures that wealthy A-holes in Japan can't go out and by a Hummer or some other American behemoth.

Granted Toyota makes Tundras or Sequoias too, but those models are going hybrid already and will meet that 20% improvement with or without this mandate.

Rafael Seidl

Darwin -

the regs will apply to the Japanese market. Afaik, Toyota is not selling the Tundra (much) over there, it was designed for the US market whose CAFE targets will soon look even less ambitious.

In Europe, many expect that the EU will proceed with a CO2 fleet average mandate of 120 g/km by 2012 if the industry fails to meet its voluntary commitment of 140 g/km by 2008 (which is looking increasingly likely). Expect a lot of wrangling over the fraction of future CO2 reductions that should be achieved by changing the standard fuel formulations to include higher fractions of renewables.

Note that while engines and transmissions have actually been getting better for several decades, the gains have been compensated by larger vehicle size and weight plus enhanced safety and convenience features. Achieving the 20% target will require further improvements in average drivetrain efficiency plus new materials/construction concepts to at least stabilize average vehicle weight, if not to reduce it. Enhanced traffic management, especially the elimination of permanent traffic jams, will also be essential.


Rafael Seidl wrote: Enhanced traffic management, especially the elimination of permanent traffic jams, will also be essential.

I've been wondering if/when this would come up. The present state of traffic control at intersections nearly everywhere in America (and probably most of the world) is straight out of the 1950's, if not earlier. Given the progress that has been made in electronics and IT, it should be relatively inexpensive to develop smart intersections that are aware of traffic within a couple hundred meters of the intersection and act accordingly to minimize stops. Such a system could also reduce collisions. It seems like a no-brainer.



Smart intersections and traffic lights have been developed long time ago, and are deployed quite widely (thought not as fast as we would like). In city I live in (170 K) it is a norm. Way easier and safer to navigate then in adjacent Vancouver, which is lagging behind in this respect.

Allen Z:

Japanese do not give a hose about Global Warming. All your other points are 100% valid. BTW, Japan R&D investment in nuclear power accounts for 2/3 of all developed countries spending on the subject.

Rafael Seidl

George -

smart intersections will only get you so far. The real problem is the continuing trend of suburban growth and commuting into and out of city centers during rush hour. Many of the jobs there involve the manipulation of data and could conceivably done in the suburbs using modern telecommunications incl. video links. Gen-Xers are far more comfortable with these technologies than their 50-something bosses for whom personal contact is still essential to ensuring worker productivity and informal communication. There are exceptions, of course (e.g. Silicon Valley).

Flexible work hours and/or staggering them by industry (construction workers tend to be earlybirds) has already stretched rush hour sufficiently to avoid complete gridlock much of the time. Modern complements include signs advertising free spaces in city center parking structures (becoming more common in Europe), access tolls (London, Oslo, Singapore) and dynamic traffic information services integrated with on-board navigation computers (to encourage the use of alternate routes).


As I have stated, they have most of their cities located on low lying river plains, near sea level. Many are also seaports. Typhoons are a yearly occurance, though somewhat mitigated via superlevees hundreds of meters deep. The Greater Tokyo Area, home to 35+ million residents, is mostly either on river plains, or sea side. To mitigate the threat of rising sea levels, tsunamis, and typhoons, many cities' coastlines and riverfronts would have to be filled in, and have the original structures jacked up, or demolished and rebuilt. This would be costly, and disruptive exercise.
_Moreover, a changing climate would make Japan more susceptible to precipitation pattern changes, and tropical diseases. This would not bode well for an aging society, since the elderly, infants, and children, do not stand up well to non-native diseases, as they spread north with the warming climate.


Allen Z:

Sea levels are rising, and most probably will continue to rise as climate recovers from Little Ice Age for last 150 years, with average rate close to 1/16 inch per year, and slowing. As you rightfully noticed, whole Japan is routinely subject to powerful typhoons, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Level 4 hurricane (typhoon in Asia) produces level surge up to 18 feet, so according to grimmest ICCP predictions of ½ feet ocean level rise in 2100, I believe, Japanese will manage somehow. Politicians should, and apparently in Japan are, base their planning on scientific analysis, not on popular beliefs and movies. For starter take a look at:

Same applies to diseases and catastrophic weather events. There are no statistical indications that diseases are moving north. And it is well proved that warmer climate produces less violent weather events than colder one. But again, it is what science tells us, not newspapers. You can find a lot of adequate information on this, if you want to.

P.S. I live on Pacific coast in the city (170 K) entirely lower than peak high tide. I am not particularly worried: the city is protected by earthquake upgraded levy two feet higher than highest tide ever recorded.

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