After focusing primarily on hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles in the past, Japan is increasingly branching out in EV technologies. In early 2018, several Japanese vehicle manufacturers joined the newly founded company EV C.A. Spirit Corporation. The venture established by Toyota, Mazda and Denso is seen as an agreement among Japan’s top automotive players to collaborate on affordable electric vehicle technologies to catch up with international rivals’ production of battery-powered cars.
Efforts are likely to pay out, since EV registrations continue to rise in Japan, reaching almost 27 thousand newly registered passenger cars in 2018.
As of 2018, approximately 1.13 percent of motor vehicles in Japan were electric cars. This number indicated a decrease by 0.1 percent compared to the previous year. However, when looking at the market share of EVs in Japan over the past decade, figures for 2017 and 2018 were expanding rapidly. Electric cars accounted for a market share of only 0.03 percent in 2009 and peaked with 0.69 percent in 2014, before declining up until 2017, when electric mobility suddenly surged to an all-time high of 1.23 percent.
The most commonly known electric car models among Japanese were predominantly manufactured by domestic brands, such as the Nissan Leaf or Toyota’s Prius PHEV.
As of mid-2019, the purchase of an electric vehicle was only considered by a small percentage of Japanese consumers, mainly due to the comparably high price point, but also due to an apparent lack of charging stations within the country. While there were approximately 22 thousand slow chargers publicly available in Japan in 2018, the number of fast chargers reached only about 7,700 stations in the same year.
However, a great share of consumers in Japan would be willing to invest in the purchase of an electric vehicle, if the state offered certain incentives. Among those, tax rebates and subsidies were the most appealing motivators.