SAIC to Show 4th Generation Fuel Cell Vehicle at Shanghai Show
Jamaica Pushing Sugarcane Ethanol

Japan to Set Up Public-Private Project for Cost-Effective Electric Vehicle by 2015; Focus on Li-Ion Batteries

Japan is setting three development targets for advanced battery technologies: improvement (2010), advancement (2015), and innovation (2030). Click to enlarge. Source: METI

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is beginning to organize a research project with business and academia to develop an electric vehicle (EV) by 2015 that costs as much to purchase and to operate as the current generation of minicars, according to a report in the Nikkei.

METI will set up a team comprising researchers from automobile and battery manufacturers as well as universities. The group will be tasked with devising a high-capacity lithium-ion battery that retails for 85% less than existing ones.

The new vehicle will likely cost more to purchase than a minicar, but the lower energy cost will make up the difference after about 10 years.

By 2030, METI is targeting the development of a higher-performance battery that can power an electric vehicle for 500 km (310 miles) on a single charge. The ministry will also consider implementing other measures aimed at promoting the use of EVs, including building recharging stations or giving tax breaks to owners of the cars.

The development of electric vehicles is a key element in METI’s New National Energy Strategy.



Adam Galas

310 mile range by 2030? The Tesla Roadster already has a range of 250 miles useing A123 M1 batteries. The Mitshubishi Miex has a range of 150 miles running on current battery tech.

Will it really take 20 years to double capacity?

Given that battery capacity is improving by 9% annually, it will only take 7 years to reach 500 km range. That means 2014.

Also the Miev is set to go on sale for $17,000 in Japan in 2010. So an economical EV by 2015 is rather conservative.

Still good to see Japan taking tech advance seriously.

If they can develop the world's most efficient alternative energy tech they will be able to sell it world wide and revive both stagnant economy.


Tesla is using conventional Li-ion batteries, not A123's phosphate Li-ion, for reasons of cost and energy density.

A123's are nice, but they carry a significant energy density penalty at present as compared to conventional Li-ion. So, for the same size battery pack, the Tesla would not go as far as it does now if they switched.



These guys have really hit the nail on the head AFAIC in one area, cost. An 85% reduction in the cost would open up a world of opportunities for EVs (particularly true if the cost of gas continues to climb)


Tesla using A123 batteries? Never hear of that before what is your source Adam?


Pretty conservative goals but good they're inclusive of different resources. This kind of research should look at "energy storage" systems so they can consider a battery/ultracap hybrid. As nano-materials technology becomes more economical, storage hybrids will yield higher energy densities at a much faster pace than chemistry alone.


One of my dreams is to have the air in the Los Angeles basin as clear as it is after a rain or wind storm. EVs would go a long way towards achieving that. Maybe that is why the AQMD worked on getting a percentage of cars sold none polluting and started putting in charging stations. They knew people like private personal transportation and wanted to make it as clean as possible.


I think Japan taking EV seriously will favor its economy tremendously. As all we know that Japan is scarce of natural resources, like petroleum. Using EVs, it can cut down the fuel cost of importing oil (giving an advantage of trade deficit). The use of EVs, will then result in higher electric consumption, which maybe catch up through off-peak power consumption as well as more nuclear power plants. (current japan nuclear power is 29.8% of the total electric consumption [from CIA factbook]).

Adam Galas

I apologize for stating that the Tesla uses A123 M1s. It dosn't. I just just assumed they used it because its the most energy dense out there currently. That may also be wrong.

Still, Tesla useing a conventional battery and getting 250 miles shows that, by 2010-2012 500 km will be within reach.

Granted the Tesla Roadster is a small car, and it may take until 2015 for the Miev to reach such a feat.

Hopefully the Swedes are wrong and peak oil is beyond 2013.

My point was that the Japanese are being overly conservative by stating that it will take 23 years to get to 500 km.

Maybe for a hummer, but not for a regular car.

By 2030 Li+ batteries will hit their limit according to Japan, and if they continue the current trend of doubling every 7 years, they will be 8 times as energy dense.

This gives us us a Mitshubishi Miev with a range of 1,000 miles, (current is 125).

Adam Galas

Oh, and let us not forget that carbon composites can cut 50% off a car's weight.

Granted batteries may give back some of that weight savings, but a carbon composite Miev with super Li+ batteries in 2030 may be able to go 1500 miles on a charge.

Imagine going across the country with just one stop for fuel.


Lets get this straight, they are going to have a battery
by 2030, that is of higher prefomance, that will give 310 mi.
on a single charge? The year we are in is 2007, and the
Tesla Roadster, which will debut in the next few years, will
have a range of 250 mi., and the purported ZAP-X with a
350 mi. range, maybe produced a little further down the road.
What kind of time frame do we need, for the "economy of scale"
trickle down effect, to take place? They must be talking about
a battery with a superior cycle life and a rapid recharge capability. If they can get the energy density and output
density to 250 and 2500 Wh/Kg respectively, with a 1/10 cost of
current production, that will be the tipping point. That combined with a similar incremental preformance in supercap technology, and what you have, is a wide open transformation of an entire industry. I think the two decade timetable is
providing alot of leeway, for this university research /institution based full scale development,to take off. This EV "New Type Battery" could be the panacea that alot of the renewable energy wonks have been waiting for. If the Japanese can pull this off, ahead of their competitors, it will have a tremendous infusion of world wide investment capital unseen in any developing market segment. Manufacturing in this sector will grow exponentially until the promises of the fuel cell are resurrected into a profitable enterprise. Godspeed Li-ion tech.

Stan Peterson

Despite the nonsene from the phony guru of the Mount in Colorado, the coat of carbon composite auto bodies would raise the price some twenty times over the cost of steel or fiberglass. What do you think raised the cost of the B2 bomber to $2 billion a copy?

It would be better for all if the Impersonator of the Delphic Oracle in Mount Colorado would dream up a way to recycle the simple rubber tire, never mind the totally unrecyclable carbon commposite auto bodies, that he advocates for the simple reduction of weight.

Practicality has never interfered with Amory's Delphic pronouncements.


An alarming observation is the clash between where we think Battery development is, and where these "study" efforts seem to put it. Either we have bought vapor-ware, accepting that the batteries going into the Pheonix SUT, the Maya, and the 2009 Prius exist, or a lot of money is being sucked into study efforts for the purpose of employment of the non-producers.

Similarly, we think the economy of scale will result in battery cost falling from about $1200 per KWH of capacity to about $400 per KWH of capacity. Is this also vapor-ware?


The linked "Recommendations for the Future of Next-Generation Vehicle Batteries" shows a goal of mass production of batteries with 1.5 times the "performance" at 1/7 the cost of current batteries starting 2015. As you can see, it is cost that is being attacked in the shorter term. The goal for 2030 is mass production of 7 times the performance at 1/40 the cost. That performance target alone would easily be surpassed at the rate shown during the "Li+ era", so again the 1/40 cost seems like more of the focus.


Today's Li-ion batteries are good, good enough to start making EV, there plenty of need for improvement in power density, but the real problem is getting the price down by a fold or two. Is that a correct summation of what you guys are saying?


ben: You've got it. Lead-acid were never any good for EVs because of their weight. After you get past the weight problem it simply becomes a matter of balance between cost and functionality. Almost any other remaining problem, such as calendar of cycle life can be ignored if the cost of the battery were low enough. At the moment the cost of the battery is high enough to give EVs a problem competing against the current cost of gasonline. Once the balance tips far enough I think you will see EVs (HEVs,PHEVs and BEVs) hit the street in large numbers.


They're going to need a new chemistry to hit all of those targets at once.

I wonder why they have been limited to pursuing lithium-ion?


clett: do you know of any reason why the cost of lithium batteries can't be brought down?

I'd love to see that 14Million they are "poor"ing into USABC and give it to the guy at MIT working on carbon nanotube ultracaps.

Adrian Akau

Japan was first and now seems to be formost with hybrids. If they do as well with EV's as with hybrids, will GM and Ford be able to compete? It is sad state of affairs if American companies will have to play catch-up all over again.

The Tesla Motor Company has a good product but it is too expensive for the ordinary worker. Japan, on the other hand, seems to be looking at the EV from a mass production stand point.


Neil, the cost of lithium ion is falling all the time, especially in the industry standard sizes (ie 18650). I reckon they could halve or third the current costs of LiIon, but if you look at their chart, they want to cut prices to just 1/40th of what they are today! That will be tough.

The main problem will be the pressure on supply of lithium itself - once demand increases for this relatively rare commodity, prices will increase just as they have done for NiMH since the price of nickel went up (as a result of stainless steel).

I think the best approach is to use cheap, abundant materials for future batteries. Realistically, we should be looking at sodium, sulphur, aluminium and carbon - there's no danger of running out of these and they have favourable electrochemical properties. We just need a chemist to sort out their respective problems for rechargeable cells!


Clett , I agree with you why all this rush for lithum as if it was the holy
grail of batterys , maybe it will be in the future but at the moment
its very expensive and falls over when it gets cold .
Molton salt is the answer to get us moving with electric cars
in the short run , its much more power dense than lead acid , does
not mind the cold , and in large quantitys should be relativly cheap.

I will be switching one of our cars over to a EV with this battery this
year , should be intresting !

Mark A

Again, it seems a post on this site has to evolve into Japan versus GM, with GM always made out the loser.

But in my opinion this story reinforces what I have been hearing lately from GM. That is, that battery technology is the major hurdle in getting electric vehicles out to the masses. Perormance, reliablity, and PRICE are all considerations that the major automakers have to consider. The Telsas of the day do not worry about this. This story reinforces those considerations, and what GM has been saying lately. Say all you want about the Tesla or Zap cars, but they will only small time players in supplying our automotive transportation needs, not for the masses. More so, they will supply toys for the Jay Lenos and George Clooneys of this world.

I for one am not anti-ev. I am all for it. But we have to be realistic with the current battery technology, and when it will economically work for ALL of us.

Harvey D.

Could an improved version of the ESStor storage (2008/2010) unit meet many of those goals before the Lithium-Ion batteries?


At 340wh/kg the EEStor would cover their estimated requirements into the 2030 and beyond category. Price estimates that I have seen on the net (highly unreliable) would put the cost at about 100$/kwh. This would also be in their 2030 and beyond category. IMO these numbers would tip the economic scale in favour of EVs.

Now we wait and see if anything gets delivered to Zenn.


The first necessary improvement for EEStor would have to be actually making a working battery. Then they, like all the other battery manufacturers, would need to spend many years of R&D to hit the 2030 targets... though in my opinion even the 2015 targets would make PHEV viable without subsidies. Compared with say hydrogen fuel cells, which will probably not be viable even for my grandkids' spacecars.

The comments to this entry are closed.