politics

Abe says gov't will offer Y2 mil subsidy for fuel-cell cars

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" “The government needs to support this."

This is the secret of Japanese automotive success: pro-active and intensive gov't support. Unlike GM, Japanese carmakers don't need gov't bailouts, because their govt is constantly throwing piles of taxpayer money at them every day.

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Jeff - don't forget the fact that they haven't had to pay a single yen of corporation tax for donkey's years.

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which use hydrogen as fuel and run on electricity from cells that combine hydrogen with oxygen and emit only water vapor and heat, though some carbon dioxide is emitted when hydrogen is produced from hydrocarbons.

Actually quite a considerable amount of CO2 is produced in making the hydrogen, and the article is silent on the fact that it is mostly coming from natural gas (LPG), which is a limited resource. Even if they were making it from water the problem would remain that producing it requires electricity, which in Japan right now is largely coming from coal...

... so without other energy reform in Japan you're basically running your car on coal.

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Frungy

natural gas (LPG), which is a limited resource

Limited? What do you think cow f@rts are or the stinch at waste water treatment plans are? Methane(natural gas) is a bi-product of fermentation and can be collected anywhere if they construct these places with that in mind.

By the way Japan's energy dependency on coal is about 15%.

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JeffLee

This is the secret of Japanese automotive success: pro-active and intensive gov't support. Unlike GM, Japanese carmakers don't need gov't bailouts, because their govt is constantly throwing piles of taxpayer money at them every day.

How much did GM get for the Volt development again?

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The purchase subsidies are eligible to any and ALL fuel cell cars both domestic and foreign.

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@hokkaidoguy

"How much did GM get for the Volt development again?"

"Much less than the hundreds of billions of dollars that Japanese and Korean auto and battery manufacturers have received over the years" -- Greg Martin, director of Policy and Washington Communications for GM.

The Volt has been the target of a massive misinformation campaign by the anti-Obama, anti-Green conservative wingnuts in US. That's probably were you got your information from.

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Nah, I read something about the volt subsidies on jalopnik or oppo a couple of years back.

Maybe anti green to a point, but generally apolitical.

Frankly I don't think there should be a problem with government subsidies of r&d or large scale projects like this one that require significant infrastructure development. At the end of the day they benefit both the industry as a whole and the economy.

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I remember when Toyota first started selling the (ugly) Prius hybrid. Newsweek magazine reported that they were losing almost $2000 US per car.

They stuck at it. Wore the loses probably as a tax write off and now have the top selling car in Japan. Along with that have spent an untold amount of their own money on R and D. Something which is NOT seen in the US. There R and D means giving money to ad agencies to find better ways to SELL cars. Not to MAKE better cars.

Honda and Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) were actively discouraged by the MITI in their early years and as a result now they almost completely bypass government guidelines and (stings attached ) hand outs. (A History of Honda Motors ; The Man and the Cars)

The history of largese in the Japanese car industry is very different fron that f the US. One just needs to look at the salaries of the top executives in the US to see where the government assistance has ended up.

I highly recommend The Reckoning By David Halberstram. A 1300 page history of Ford and Nissan in a parallel timeline. This book is very relevent to the dicsussion here .

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So consumers who are in a position to pay over 5 million yen will get a welfare payment to help them pay for such a vehicle. Instead, how about means-testing the purchases as it is the least wealthy would be helped. Subsidizing the purchase of an upper-middle class or above person's car is perverse.

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Many people will trade in their high end Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and other imports for the fuel cell models and they will be happy to help the development of the car of the future.

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So why doesn't the government do this with solar power and get rid of the idea of starting up the nuclear power plants?? If clean is good for cars, why not power??

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tmarie:

So why doesn't the government do this with solar power and get rid of the idea of starting up the nuclear power plants?? If clean is good for cars, why not power??

Have you taken a drive in the country lately? There are solar installations going up everywhere thanks to government support. Back in March they freed up ¥10 billion in subsidies for batteries alone.

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I like Elon Musk's Tesla company. $35,000 (before any government assistance) all electric car that performs and goes 200 miles (360km) on a single charge. Plus there are many FREE charging stations around the USA built by Tesla. Instead of the country doling out ¥2,000,000 per hydrogen powered car (that only well off people will able afford), how about letting Mr. Musk do his thing, here?

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Solar energy. I love it. The roof of my house is covered with Kyocera panels that generate 50%+ of our energy needs. We have a good deal with the utility which buys our surplus, but unfortunately for the power company the surplus coming at midday peak hours can not be stored to meet the peak demands after sun down. And BTW, 30% of the installation cost was covered by a government grant and that was more than 12 years ago. Solar energy is clean, if you forget about the production process of the panels, but it is not 'on demand' energy. A cost effective method to store surplus solar electricity has not been found yet.

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Presto345

A cost effective method to store surplus solar electricity has not been found yet.

Check the METI website, they have a subsidy program for storage batteries. Up to ¥1M for homeowners, substantially more for business.

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Let Abe pay the ¥2million from his OWN pocket, then.

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Have you taken a drive in the country lately? There are solar installations going up everywhere thanks to government support. Back in March they freed up ¥10 billion in subsidies for batteries alone.

I haven't seen this. And why only in the country? Why not home owners in the city? We certainly didn't get any subsidy - though will have my husband check it out since you mentioned there might be one.

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presto345

No NEC markets large scale batteries for home usage to store electricity. It was meant for storing night time electrcity to be used in the afternoon to utilize the low cost evening time plan but it could be used in the opposite direction.

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Tmarie:

I haven't seen this. And why only in the country? Why not home owners in the city? We certainly didn't get any subsidy - though will have my husband check it out since you mentioned there might be one.

It's more obvious in the country because it's easier to set up a hectare of solar on open ground than on a rooftop. Small scale solar farms have been cropping up all over Hokkaido like mushrooms.

There is a feed in tariff of somewhere around 40 yen/kWh for homeowners nationwide. Check with your local utility.

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Dear BBQ Deamon.

Thank you for raising the question of why Tesla cars are not available/present in Japan.

I would love to know the reasoning.

It seems that Tesla is concentrating completely on the American market.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

garymalmgren

There is a Tesla showroom in Aoyama accross the street from the former Haagen dazs shop if you must know. I believe they sold some units in Japan after entering market.

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SamuraiBlueJul. 21, 2014 - 10:21AM JST

natural gas (LPG), which is a limited resource

Limited? What do you think cow f@rts are or the stinch at waste water treatment plans are? Methane(natural gas) is a bi-product of fermentation and can be collected anywhere if they construct these places with that in mind.

I specified "LPG" next to natural gas, which is what is currently being used and is a limited resource. If they start using other gasses I'll change my opinion. Until that time I'm correct in asserting that the hydrogen gas currently being collected is nowhere near "green".

By the way Japan's energy dependency on coal is about 15%.

Did you make that up or did you incorrectly use old statistics?

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LPG or Liquid Petroleum Gas is basically a mixture of Liquid Methane & Propane. On top Liquifacation is done artificially and does not come out naturally out of the ground.

No Japan mostly use natural gas and not much coal.

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For those who support the concept of subsidies, they are just one of the immoral forms of wealth redistribution. But, those benefiting from the welfare handouts are the least needy. So, this Robin Hood-Abe is proposing to rob EVERYONE to give the loot to the rich(buyers and car-maker cronies). Yes, I oppose all subsidies including those for which I would qualify.

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John Galt

Not quite since with purchase subsidies especially for new technology lowers the purchase hurdle which leads in creating a larger population of early adopters. This means critical mass is gained faster making it easier for the hydrogen gas suppliers to invest in more gas station which leads to a cycle of more people adopting the vehicle making it less expensive.

Basically the chicken or the egg question is being forced to move forward through government initiative.

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SamuraiBlueJul. 21, 2014 - 09:04PM JST LPG or Liquid Petroleum Gas is basically a mixture of Liquid Methane & Propane. On top Liquifacation is done artificially and does not come out naturally out of the ground.

... straw man. LPG is either refined from petroleum or natural gas streams from underground. The fact that liquifaction is a product of processing is just a lame attempts at muddying the waters. The fact is that the LPG used in Japan is in no way a "green" power source, and that the hydrogen for these car cells is mostly being produced from LPG.

It is possible to produce "green" hydrogen cells, but it simply isn't being done that way in Japan, so this car being marketed as "green" is a con.

No Japan mostly use natural gas and not much coal.

The U.S. Energy Information Association statistics on power use in Japan show that you are very much mistaken. Since nuclear power went off-line post-Fukushima the percentage of coal use has been rising rapidly as they refurbished and fired up old coal power stations again.

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"Frankly I don't think there should be a problem with government subsidies of r&d or large scale projects like this one..."

I think corporate welfare is a problem. Especially when everyone is hysterical about the government's unprecedented debt level, while the same govt hands massive amounts of public funds money to a wealthy corporation that's fully capable of standing on its own feet, just so upscale consumers can drive their expensive cars that most of us can't afford.

I propose that if Toyota earns profits as a result of this venture, then it be obligated to "give back": issue shares deposited in the state pension fund.

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JeffLee

I think corporate welfare is a problem. Especially when everyone is hysterical about the government's unprecedented debt level, while the same govt hands massive amounts of public funds money to a wealthy corporation that's fully capable of standing on its own feet, just so upscale consumers can drive their expensive cars that most of us can't afford

"Corporate Welfare" is a pretty broad term these days. Once upon a time, it meant money given to corporations with no benefit to society - usually companies who laid off US workers and sent jobs to Mexico.

I'm not sure it's fair to call this subsidy corporate welfare mainly because it doesn't apply to one corporation, but also because there is substantial economic return available.

First, the subsidy applies to any Hydrogen vehicles. Honda has a model ready to launch, GM has had one in the works for a while, Ford has the hydrogen Focus platform, Benz and BMW.. honestly it's hard to think of a major auto maker who hasn't toyed with hydrogen over the last decade.

IF there is a subsidy, this could be the turning point for this segment of the auto industry. If there are cars, there will be sales. Made in Japan vehicles are made by Japanese workers. People will need to be hired for production, supply chains will need to be created. All of that equates to (a) income tax revenue and (b) car tax/sales tax revenue in the short term.

Toyota is also talking about finally creating a hydrogen filling network. If that infrastructure exists, there is another new revenue stream for the government (hydrogen sales tax, fuel tax) - not to mention the fact that hydrogen fuel is essentially a new industry, which means supply chains and jobs and spin offs and so on. Lots of government revenue to be had there as well.

And finally there's the other tech that has been sitting idle because of the lack of hydrogen fuel: home fuel cells. Panasonic and Toshiba have had these sitting around for a couple of years, pretty sure Hitachi has one as well. About the size of a domestic heating oil tank, they supply all the power needs of a house. All they need is hydrogen, which is currently hard to come by. I'd buy one in a heartbeat if they were available.

So what all that means is this: A subsidy to get the hydrogen cars selling is a lot bigger than just Toyota. This is a push to create a new industry entirely. The potential for thousands of jobs exists - and with them comes tax revenue and pension contributions and so on.

Gotta look at the big picture, Jeff.

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