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Japan Plans to Spend $1.72 Billion Over 5 Years to Spur Development of Low-Carbon Powertrains and Fuels

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) plans to spend ¥209 billion (US$1.72 billion) over five years, beginning in the current fiscal year, to support the development of next-generation powertrains and fuels to cut petroleum consumption and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The plan, called “an initiative to develop next-generation automobiles and fuels”, focuses on five primary areas: batteries for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles; hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles; clean diesel vehicles; biofuels, including second-generation biofuels; and infrastructure and intelligent traffic management. More than three-quarters of the proposed spending is directed toward hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, with batteries and clean diesel coming in for approximately equivalent shares for the remaining funds.

The plan, which METI would like to have included in the government’s spending guidelines for 2007 due out in June,  has the support of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Petroleum Association of Japan.

Elements of the plan include:

  • Batteries. METI sees battery development as critical to hybrids (HEV), plug-in hybrids (PHEV), electric vehicles (EV) and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCV). The ministry proposes spending ¥24.5 billion (US$201 million) over the period to develop next-generation batteries leading to the development of full-function battery-electric vehicles that would outperform existing models at one-fortieth of the cost by 2030.

    METI Battery R&D Targets
      2007 2010 2015 2020 2030
    Application Small EV Commuter EV
    High-performance HEV
    Commuter EV
    “Real” EV
    Efficiency 1 1 1.5 3 7
    Cost ¥200,000/kWh
  • Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. METI would like to spend ¥160 billion (US$1.3 billion) on research and development with the target of fuel-cell vehicles costing the same as gasoline-powered vehicles by 2030.

  • Clean diesel. METI’s proposed ¥24 billion (US$197 million) for clean diesel would focus on the development of fuels such as gas-to-liquids (GTL) and hydrogenated bio-oil as well as powertrain developments.

  • Biofuels. The biofuels element of the plan did not carry a spending allocation on release. METI says that it plans to accelerate the development of next generation biofuels through working with academia nd industry. Through such efforts, METI is targeting a reduction in the price of domestically-produced biofuels from the current level of ¥150-180 per liter to ¥100/liter by 2015 and ¥40/liter thereafter.

  • Infrastructure and Traffic Management. METI will work with other stakeholders to improve the road infrastructure and develop more intelligent toll station and traffic light management with the goal of increasing the average travelling speed in Tokyo. Currently, traffic moves in Tokyo at an average speed of 18 kph, compared to an average 26 kph in Paris. METI would like to double the speed by 2030.



The good new is that they are spending money to get off of oil imports.

The bad news is they may be spending it in the wrong places. Too bad they did not spend 75 percent on battery technology. It would have a lot better chance of getting a return on investment.

20 years ago hydrogen was 20 years away. Now today hydrogen is still 20 years away. Is something wrong here?


2007 battery cost target: $1,644.00 US per kwh. They must be talking about an Altair battery because you can already get LiFeP04 for less than $1,000 per kwh. $41/kwh would be marvelous, if hard to believe.

Too bad about the continuing focus on hydrogen ... hey, maybe they'll make good range extenders for PHEVs.


Cost targets of $41/kwh are possible but the cycle life is
one of many other factors that are part of any responsible
price point evaluation. The size (volume) and power density/
output are essential in consideration to the innovation
that will most probably be comming soon to HFC vehicles in
the next 20 years. I just hope this next 20 isn't going to
be like the last 20.


Niel what is your source for $1000 kWh LiFeP04?
This source say $1640 kWh


Henrik: I'm getting mine from Foxx Lithium. I'm paying $5000 for 100ah of a 60V battery. Unless I'm having a senior moment (always possible) that works out to 6kwh. I recall someone else around here had a Taiwanese source for even less.


To be honest 20 years ago h2 was 100 years away.
10 yeas ago it was 75 years away.

Today its 10 years away.

There areafter all only a few simple factors in h2.

Cost and weight of storage.. right now 80 kg nets 300 miles.. fine on that and the 2 tanks needed are mass producable...

2 high eff h2 ice.. done 50% eff gotten.. just need production engines made. fuel cell.. goal 75%eff by 2012 have reached goal several ways.. size and cost.. dropping fast.

3 h2 gen... cost dropping like a rock mainly due to equipment getting cheaper faster ANDmore eff all at the same time. Already cheap enough if milage high... will have to see what comes out by go time.

As for batteries.. all these cars will likely use at least an 8 to 16 kwh pack.. so even the h2 car with small battery should go 20 or so on just ev.

Japan is of course h2 happy because its the only fuel they can make wn mass at home.

C Harget

I've got to give them props for having specific, measurable, and ambitious goals and taking a long-term view.

I don't really see the point of doing batteries and H2. If your batteries are good enough, they're better, cheaper, more flexible and nearer than fuel cells.

Everything I've seen on generating hydrogen via electrolysis assumes either 1)cheap off-hours renewable electricity (wind, tide, geothermal) which are years off and would be better for recharging BEV if they were here, and 2)magic catalysts, which might make incremental efficiency improvements, and 3)lossless storage, even though H2 takes energy to pressurize and likes to escape.

The renewable alternative, hydrogenesis bacteria, have to eat something, have low yeilds, and produce very there's still storage, cost and scalability concerns. Wouldn't making biogas out of the stuff be more industrial scale?

Anyway, good luck to METI on their goals.

richard Rosenthal

H2 compressed is a bad idea compared to low cost batteries. Given effort in reducing the cost of batteries I would lean toward an electric solution. For more safety, simplicity and efficiency. Match the need with the technology and you satisfy 90+ of transportation needs with a vehicle with ~40mi range. Produce a hightly configurable chassis without a drivetrain, leasing options for motor/wheel/suspensions, pickup beds, aquatic kits, camping kits? and aux ICE power packs that mount in a standardized buss mount configuration and you will likely satisfy 99.9% of American transportation needs. Allow vehicle electric grid mass storage schemes and improve the grid and we will enjoy symbionic rewards. If we must stick with the Exxon distributed fuel model we will end up with an expensive, explosive, leaky. complicated, profit oriented distributed fuel system.

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