Tokyo is planning to spend EUR45.2 billion ($385 million) on fuel cell vehicle subsidies and hydrogen stations for the 2020 Olympics. Makoto Fujimoto, chief of the planning team at Tokyo’s energy department, remarked that the government plans to set up 35 stations to fuel hydrogen-based fuel cell vehicles and is in holding talks with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. to have 6,000 hydrogen cars plying on its roads by the end of the decade.
Hiroshi Takahashi, a research fellow at Fujitsu Research Institute, remarked that the Olympics provide a good opportunity to showcase new technologies and is a big chance to attract new investment and update Tokyo’s transportation system to become fuel cell friendly.
The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been serious in its plan to cut the country’s dependence on nuclear power, especially after it suffered its worst nuclear disaster since World War II in March 2011. In fact, Abe recently received Toyota’s first Mirai fuel cell vehicle and took a short test drive at his official residence.
After the drive, Abe said the Mirai was “very comfortable,” adding said he wants “all ministries and agencies to have” the fuel cell vehicle. The national government is planning to build hydrogen distribution facilities as it back to Toyota to help promote what the Japanese carmaker views as the next generation of auto technology.
Japan offers heavy subsidies for customers opting for fuel cell vehicles, bigger than what other countries provide for EV buyers and triple the incentives offered to buyers of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
The prime minister has said that the government wants to build a “hydrogen society,” in which fuel cells also powers homes and office buildings. Toyota will start selling the Mirai in California this year at a sticker price of $57,500. The Mirai offers a range of 300 miles and refueling time of between three to five minutes. [source: Bloomberg.com]