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Japan pushes for hydrogen cars

The Japanese government is investing millions to create an eco-friendly "hydrogen society" by 2020, just in time for the Tokyo Olympics

Quelle:: DPA, Institute of Engineering and Technology, and Gas2

The Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car at the CES Show in Las Vegas, Navada, January 09, 2015
The Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car at the CES Show in Las Vegas, Navada, January 09, 2015

Honda will unveil its first hydrogen car, called Clarity Fuel Cell, at this year's Tokyo Motor Show in Japan, opening today, 30 October. The eco-friendly vehicle is Japan's second mass-produced "affordable" hydrogen car, right behind Toyota's Mirai.

Honda Motor CEO Takahiro Hachigo unveils the Clarity Fuel Cell at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo,  Japan, 28 October, 2015
Honda Motor CEO Takahiro Hachigo unveils the Clarity Fuel Cell at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo, Japan, 28 October, 2015
EPA

Following in their footsteps, automakers Nissan and Mitsubishi are also planning to release hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FVSs) in the coming years.

Toyota Mirai FVS car on display at the 36th Bangkok International Motor Show in Thailand, 24 March, 2015
Toyota Mirai FVS car on display at the 36th Bangkok International Motor Show in Thailand, 24 March, 2015
bankerwin/Shutterstock

With market leader Volkswagen's recent emissions scandal and their first quarterly loss in at least 15 years, the eco-friendly sector of the international automotive market is up for grabs.

Now Japanese companies are under pressure to deliver environmental excellence, with hydrogen expected to have a much rosier future than diesel.

Greenpeace activists holding up a
Greenpeace activists holding up a "Stop with the lies!" signs, during a rally in front of the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, 25 September, 2015
EPA

Hydrogen cars's main advantage against electric cars, the other eco-conscious alternative, is their much larger distance per charge range of up to 650 kilometres. However, the lack of relevant hydrogen infrastructure and the high cost of FVSs call for generous investments.

A hydrogen filling station at the World Smart Energy Week in Tokyo, Japan, 27 February, 2013
A hydrogen filling station at the World Smart Energy Week in Tokyo, Japan, 27 February, 2013
EPA

Luckily, with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approaching, the Japanese government is eager to offer subsidies for manufacturers, tax breaks for buyers, and has already commenced the costly construction of the "hydrogen highway" – a network of hydrogen fueling stations across Japan.

The Governor of Tokyo, Yōichi Masuzoe, calling for a
The Governor of Tokyo, Yōichi Masuzoe, calling for a "hydrogen society" at Visions for Tokyo 2020 and Beyond, 31 October, 2014
Chatham House/Wikicommons

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