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Ambassador report

Ambassador report

[Ambassador report] Thematic Report(Toyota and Japan's Fuel Cell Ambitions)

by Keitaro Hanzawa | 17-11-2020 19:35 Comments 3 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations

In my previous report I detailed the functionality of Maglev trains as well as conducted a trade-off analysis regarding the implementation of these trains in Japan. As the Theme for this month is  "Eco-friendly Mobility, " I will continue my discussion of Transportation in Japan and the growing shift towards green modes of transportation. 

Walking the streets of Tokyo, there are many more options for mobility and most of them are based around the Japanese Car company “Toyota,” in preparation for the now postponed 2020 olympics. As Toyota planned to exhibit the future generation of transportation in the 2020 Olympics they have since slowly disseminated some products into the Market. These future products include, Hybrid Electric Vehicles, Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles like the hydrogen-powered, “Mirai,” and the Prius PHV. Toyota is one of many car companies slowly transitioning towards more HEVs and FCEVs acronyms of aforementioned car models. These newly developed cars emit much less carbon emissions compared to normal gas guzzlers as FCEVs(Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles) only produce water and air. This transition to cleaner energy cars is becoming increasingly more evident in Japan, as more hydrogen filling stations–refuelling stations for FCEVs–are being constructed, from 111 this year to 581 by 2035(Swiss Business Hub Japan). 

Outside of major cities in Japan, cars are almost a necessity to get around cities like in the Yamagata Prefecture. I believe that Green Mobility is an integral part towards reducing global carbon emissions as according to the World Bank, “23% of energy related GHG emissions comes from the transportation sector” and in Japan that percentage is roughly 20%. Therefore, the trend of “Eco Friendly Transportation” aims to cut that percentage by a large amount. 

Alongside the technological aspect of eco-transportation there is also the marketing side that needs to be discussed especially in the context of Japan. To increase the consumption of more green purchasing, “the procurement of products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on the environment. The Japanese government has increased the sales staff that can provide consumers with more information as to buy modes of transportation that are eco-friendly. As a result, the position of “Environmental Meister” was created in stores to help consumers choose more eco-friendly options. I like that Japan is tackling the eco-transportation movement in more than one aspect, which I find critical to promoting more use of cleaner cars. It is one thing to develop the green-tech but, it is another to sell and distribute it. 

However, there is still one glaring issue associated with the hydrogen–fuel cell market: the economic viability. Though the Japanese government has invested heavily in R&D, supporting zero-emission hydrogen production, and developing hydrogen infrastructure for transport, these projects are still largely dependent on public funding rather than private. The reason is because standard gasoline is much cheaper in comparison, thus economically, gasoline is the more desirable option. 

Again, there is this conflict between societal good versus economic desirability exhibited in the decision between pursuing research and development towards reaching a “hydrogen society” and continuing the path to exhausting our petroleum stock. In this constant push and pull, I think the future lies in green-technology, although this might not be the most economically feasible at the moment. The road to a better, and more greener, will come from the Japanese government investing in the technology and the distribution.

Works Cited: 

Brown, Ariella. “Toyota Showcases Sustainable Mobility for All With Solutions Designed for 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.” Interesting Engineering, Interesting Engineering, 10 July 2020, interestingengineering.com/toyota-showcases-sustainable-mobility-for-all-with-solutions-designed-for-2020-olympics-and-paralympics.

Makino, Hanna. “Japan, the New Hydrogen Nation.” S, 4 Feb. 2020, www.s-ge.com/en/article/global-opportunities/20201-c5-japan-hydrogen-market.

“Moving toward Green Mobility: Three Countries, Three Different Paths.” World Bank Blogs, blogs.worldbank.org/transport/moving-toward-green-mobility-three-countries-three-different-paths.


SJ Mentor

  • SJ Mentor says :
    Hello Keitaro
    It's your SJ mentor.

    Thank you for sharing your valuable report regarding the movement toward green mobility in Japan.
    I am surprised to know that 'Environmental Meister' helps consumers choose more eco-friendly options.
    Not only R&D but sales and marketing are also important for expansion of eco-transportation.
    We should orient environmental value not just economical value for sustainable development.
    That is the reason clean, eco-friendly mobility system must be supplied.
    Hope things are fine with you.
    Green cheers!

    Best regards,
    SJ mentor.
    Posted 30-11-2020 06:42

Mun WooJooMentor

  • Mun WooJooMentor says :
    Hello Keitaro,
    this is your mentor WooJoo.

    Warm greetings from South Korea.
    Thank you for sharing your report about eco-friendly mobility.
    I am glad to hear that such a major mobility company is shifting into a green company producing FCVE and HEVs.
    Hyundai, Tesla and many other big companies are producing hybrid, electric cars for sustainable city and development.
    I agree that still the financial viability is an ongoing problem,
    and I guess that more studies and advance in technology can solve it in the fugure.
    Green technology is now essential for us,
    so let's save energy and pollute less by using eco mobility, or changing our lifestyles.

    Keep writing

    Posted 19-11-2020 20:05

Shobha Pokhrel

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