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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Report: Toyota to begin sales of fuel cell sedan in Japan this December

October 15, 2014

The Nikkei reports that Toyota will begin sales of its new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV), reportedly named Mirai, in Japan in December. The company had earlier said the fuel cell sedan would be on sale in Japan before April 2015, and in the US and Europe by summer 2015. (Earlier post.)

The Nikkei said that Toyota had planned to make 700 of the fuel cell cars annually, but that initial demand is already reaching close to 1,000. The company will consider raising output based on the progress of the deployment of the refueling infrastructure required.

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Nissan extends trial of ultra-compact EV sharing service in Yokohama for one year; publishes top-level data

September 20, 2014

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd and the City of Yokohama will extend the one-year trial run of the first large-scale One-way Car Sharing Service in Japan, called “Choimobi Yokohama,” for another year. (Earlier post.)

The service, which kicked off on 11 October 2013, features Nissan’s ultra-compact New Mobility Concept electric vehicles. The program's main objectives are to encourage low-carbon emission transport options, improve the quality of transportation in the city, and promote tourism. Nissan provided some top-level user data from the first year to illustrate the effectiveness of the service.

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Toyota to launch its fuel cell vehicle in Japan before April 2015, priced around $68,700; reveals exterior

June 25, 2014

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Toyota’s Mitsuhisa Kato briefs the media in Japan on the timing and pricing of the FCV, and outlines the company’s view of the role of fuel cell vehicles. Click to enlarge.

Toyota Motor Corporation revealed the exterior design and Japan pricing of its hydrogen fuel cell sedan, first unveiled as a concept at the Tokyo Motor Show last year. (Earlier post.) The car will launch in Japan before April 2015, and preparations are underway for launches in the US and European markets in the summer of 2015.

In Japan, the fuel cell sedan will go on sale at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships, priced at approximately ¥7 million (US$68,700) (MSRP; excludes consumption tax). Initially, sales will be limited to regions where hydrogen refueling infrastructure is being developed: Saitama Prefecture, Chiba Prefecture, Tokyo Metropolis, Kanagawa Prefecture, Yamanashi Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture, Hyogo Prefecture, Yamaguchi Prefecture, and Fukuoka Prefecture.

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Japan automakers form joint venture to advance electric charging infrastructure: Nippon Charge Service

May 30, 2014

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation have jointly established a new company, Nippon Charge Service, LLC, to promote the installation of chargers for plug-in electric vehicles (PHVs, PHEVs, EVs). The goal is to help build a charging network that offers more convenience to drivers in Japan.

The new company will promote the installation of chargers, for the good of society and to expand the use of electric-powered vehicles. Related industries are also expected to benefit. Development Bank of Japan Inc. (DBJ) will support the joint effort of the four automakers by investing in the new company with its “Fund for Japanese Industrial Competitiveness”.

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Japanese automobile industry establishes joint Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines (AICE)

May 20, 2014

Eight Japanese automakers and one automobile research institute—Suzuki Motor; Daihatsu Motor; Toyota Motor; Nissan Motor; Fuji Heavy Industries; Honda R&D; Mazda Moto; Mitsubishi Motors; and Japan Automobile Research Institute (JARI)—have jointly established the Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines (AICE). AICE’s president is Keiji Otsu, Managing Officer, Honda R&D.

The participating automakers will work together to identify and to present research needs that address issues and challenges facing the automakers in the area of more fuel efficient combustion technologies for internal combustion engines and technologies which achieve cleaner tailpipe emissions.

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Honda to begin large-scale road testing of driving support system utilizing traffic signal information; goal of commercialization

March 28, 2014

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Image of how the driving support system utilizes traffic signal information. Click to enlarge.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. plans to begin public road demonstration testing of its driving support system utilizing traffic signal information next month. The demonstration testing will be conducted in Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture in Japan in collaboration with the Tochigi Prefectural Police and UTMS Society of Japan, as part of research and development of the Universal Traffic Management Systems (UTMS) in which Honda has been participating.

UTMS is a new traffic management system promoted by the National Police Agency of Japan as a part of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). The UTMS utilizes information communication technologies to realize safer and smoother traffic as well as to promote environmental protection. Honda’s large-scale road testing will help it verify the overall functionality and effectiveness of the system as the final stage of verification toward commercialization.

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Honda recalls Fit Hybrids and Vezel Hybrids in Japan; 3rd recall due to problems with 7-speed DCT

February 10, 2014

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced a voluntary recall of the all-new Fit Hybrid (earlier post) and Vezel Hybrid (earlier post) produced in Japan from July 2013 through February 2014 due to a problem with the software program controlling the 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) which could cause non-engagement of gears, a delay in the ability to begin driving or the inability to move at all. Honda notified Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of the recall with a total recall population of 81,353 units.

Honda conducted two earlier recalls in October and December 2013 due to a defect with the software program controlling the 7-speed DCT which could have caused a delay in the ability to drive the vehicle or the inability to drive. This latest recall is this the third related to problems with the 7-speed DCT. Each recall was due to a different cause.

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Japan automakers going slow with biodiesel; JAMA maintains stance on B5 as maximum for now

January 22, 2014

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JAMA cites the poor oxidation stability of high-level biodiesel blends, highlighted in the JATOP findings, in sticking with B5 levels. PME= palm oil methyl ester, RME = rapeseed methyl ester, SME = soy methyl ester, WME = waste cooking oil methyl ester, FTD = Fischer-Tropsch diesel, HBD = hydrogenated biodiesel. Source: JATOP.Click to enlarge.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) is maintaining its stance on B5 (5% biodiesel, i.e., fatty acid methyl ester, blends) as the maximum until further findings and market observations on the use of B7 are reported.

JAMA bases its postion on the results of study from the Japan Auto-Oil Program subsidized by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). JATOP was organized by the Japan Petroleum Energy Center to develop automotive and fuel technologies best suited to simultaneously settle three issues—“Reducing CO2 emissions”; “Fuel diversification” and “Reducing motor vehicle emissions”—and to develop high accuracy air quality simulation models and facilitating their exploitation.

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Toyota launches fully redesigned Voxy and Noah minivans in Japan; class-first hybrid system

January 20, 2014

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Noah G (hybrid model with options). Click to enlarge.

In Japan, Toyota Motor Corporation launched the completely redesigned Voxy minivan through Netz dealers, and the completely redesigned Noah minivan through Toyota Corolla dealers; hybrid models are scheduled for release on 14 February. Monthly sales targets for Japan are 4,600 units for Voxy and 3,400 units for Noah.

For the hybrid variants, a 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle combustion engine, evolved and matured from the third-generation Prius, together with a class-first full hybrid system (THS II with reduction gear) achieves fuel economy of 23.8 km/L (56 mpgUS, 4.2 l/100 km) and CO2 emissions of 98 g/km under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s (MLIT) JC08 test cycle.

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Honda begins sales of new VEZEL and VEZEL hybrid in Japan

December 20, 2013

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VEZEL HYBRID. Click to enlarge.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. began sales of the VEZEL in Japan today. Honda says that the VEZEL fuses the dynamic qualities of an SUV, the elegance of a coupe, the functionality of a minivan and excellent fuel economy.

The conventional VEZEL is equipped with a 1.5L direct-injection DOHC i-VTEC engine coupled to a CVT, as is available in front-wheel and four-wheel drive versions. The VEZEL HYBRID is equipped with Honda’s next-generation SPORT HYBRID i-DCD system (earlier post) that combines a 97 kW (130 hp), 156 N·m (115 lb-ft) 1.5 L direct injection engine with a 22 kW (30 hp), 160 N·m (118 lb-ft) motor. The realized maximum system output of 112 KW (150 hp) is equivalent to that of a 2.0-liter engine.

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Mazda showcases CNG and hybrid Axela models in Tokyo; Mazda’s approach to environmental performance

November 22, 2013

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda is showcasing the recently-released Mazda Axela (known as Mazda3 overseas) with a variety of engine types at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, including a CNG concept and hybrid variants. (Earlier post.)

The Axela accounts for more than 30% of global sales; the latest Axela is the third generation. The new Axela range also introduces a hybrid vehicle, and marks the first time for a single model launched on the Japanese market to include gasoline, diesel, and hybrid power plants in its powertrain lineup.

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Mazda suspends dealership test drives showcasing Smart City Brake Support after injury accident

November 12, 2013

Mazda is suspending all test drives intended to showcase the accident avoidance features of Smart City Brake Support until the cause of an accident with injuries in Japan involving the technology has been established and countermeasures taken.

On 10 November, there was an accident causing injury to a customer and a dealership employee during a test drive event to demonstrate safety features using a Mazda CX-5. The demonstration was organized and held by a company called Sakata Jidosha Kogyo, which runs three Mazda Autozam dealerships in Japan’s Saitama prefecture.

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Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi to provide financial assistance for EV charging infrastructure in Japan

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation have agreed on the details of specific financial assistance they will provide to installers of charging stations for electric vehicles (PHVs, PHEVs, and EVs). This announcement follows an agreement the four companies announced in July jointly to promote the construction of a user-friendly network of charging infrastructures. (Earlier post.)

In order for electric vehicles to become widely adopted, the partners point out, it is imperative that charging infrastructure be made widely available as quickly as possible. By assisting installers with the part of their costs not covered by government subsidies, the four companies intend to promote wider availability of chargers to make electric vehicle use more convenient.

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