JAMA: Supporting Growth of Japan Plug-in Vehicle Fleet to 600,000 by 2020 Will Require Combination of Technical Breakthroughs, Market Innovations and the Elimination of Obstacles
|Technical challenges facing EVs. Source: JAMA. Click to enlarge.|
According to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), as of 2008, Japan had about 600,000 “next-generation” vehicles—including hybrids and electric vehicles—in service, representing 0.8% of Japan’s total fleet. Among the next-generation vehicles, only 2,500 are electric vehicles, JAMA said during the biennial Environmentally Friendly Vehicle (EFV) held the last week of November 2009 in New Delhi, India. However, JAMA cited McKinsey data to point out that, assuming Japan will account for 10% of the world’s total demand for next-generation vehicles, sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles will reach 600,000 units in the year 2020.
Supporting that level of growth will require an integrated and cooperative approach, JAMA said. Besides the technical innovations in the battery technologies and other components and aspects of the vehicle itself, market innovations such as development of in infrastructure and the creation of initial demand is part of the approach; so is the elimination of obstacles such as inappropriate regulations and standards.
|Scenarios for widespread EV use. Source: JAMA. Click to enlarge.|
JAMA pointed out that more recently, the focus of the automobile industry on the energy and environmental challenges facing it have shifted from air pollution to challenges from global warming and energy shortages, which are considered the two most urgent issues. To address both of these issues, the key is the reduction of petroleum consumption. For motor vehicles, this means the increase of fuel efficiency and greater use of non-petroleum energies. While research and development are in progress for fuel cells, in the meantime the most important direction in powertrain technology is electrification in the medium- and long-term, JAMA said.
While batteries represent the primary technical issue facing the successful commercialization of electric vehicles, other issues must also be addressed for a full diffusion of electric vehicles into the market.
Currently, JAMA said, the average driving range of electric vehicles is only about one-fourth or one-fifth of other types of vehicles. Therefore, for the time being, the use of electric vehicles will be limited to short distance driving commuting. Besides the need to ensure a sufficiently long service life of batteries, drastically lowering the cost of battery is also important.
In the performance and cost targets drawn up by The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has set a cost target for electric vehicle batteries by 2030 that is one-fortieth of their current cost. To meet this, said JAMA, a “phenomenal breakthrough” in the improved performance of the battery is essential. Industry, government and academic sectors are working together for the development of next-generation batteries in Japan.
As an example of joint industry, government and academic innovation to facilitate the introduction of plug-in vehicles, JAMA cited the “EV-PHV (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle) Town Project”. This project takes place in eight different local communities in Japan with the support of stakeholders such as government, automobile manufacturers, electric power companies and users. JAMA expects that this project will accelerate the use of electric vehicles as well as plug-in hybrid vehicles.