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Toyota, Nissan and Honda are working together to get more fuel cell vehicles on roads in what they call Japan’s big push toward “a hydrogen society”.
Fuel cell vehicles emit no pollution. They run on the power created when hydrogen stored as fuel combines with oxygen in the air to make water.
Hydrogen fuelling stations are needed to make the technology a viable option. Only 23 have opened in Japan so far but hundreds more are being planned.
The carmakers pledged up to $NZ134,000 per hydrogen station per year, to build and maintain them. Officials from Toyota, Nissan and Honda appeared together in Tokyo.
The stations already get government subsidies but are very expensive and are operating in the red.
The carmakers expect that proliferation of the technology will lower costs.
Japan is trying to get ahead of the rest of the world in a push for a hydrogen society, which requires energy companies, carmakers and the government to work together.
Hyundai’s hydrogen ix45 is being sold in Europe. Picture / Liz Dobson
Japan also wants to make fuel cells a showcase for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The concern about running out of fossil fuels is especially telling for resource-poor Japan. Green vehicle technology is also critical to curb global warming.
Toyota executive Kiyotaka Ise said carmakers have to play an active role in promoting fuel cells.
Hitoshi Kawaguchi, a Nissan executive, said carmakers can compete in products, including fuel cell cars, but they have to co-operate in infrastructure, such as fuelling stations.
The total value of support the carmakers’ plan for the stations is estimated at about $70 million.
Korean car manufacturer Hyundai has already made a push towards hydrogen vehicles with fleets of ix45s in Europe and more fuelling stations.