Year 2010 for Japanese Car Makers

How was the year 2010 for Japanese Car Manufacturers?

Automobile manufactures in Japan had 2010 as a year of mixed fortunes.  According to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, total sales of new trucks, cars and buses was 3.23 million last year which shows 10.6% increase over the previous year.  In the recent past, the increase in sales of new vehicles was noticed first in 2003 by 1.5% and the total sale of that year was 4.03 million vehicles.

toyota prius 2010 assembly line

Sales of fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles was boosted by Japanese government by providing incentives till August last year.  There was an increase in sales of fuel-efficient vehicles during this period and again we can see a slump in the sales since September 2010.  However, it was the first time in the last thirty years that we had seen such an overall increase in sales.  As per the auto dealer association spokesman, the highest percentage  increase recorded was 11.9% in the year 1989, when 5.56 million vehicles were sold.  All these figures are non-inclusive of mini cars sales and sales of trucks with 606 cubic cm or less engine capacities.  They further say that the drop in monthly sales for last four months could be visible in sale of December month.  This decline is about 28.3% from a year earlier to 179,666 vehicles.

Last year Toyota Prius recorded highest sales due to the subsidies.  It is expected that the Prius would be the best-selling model of 2010 but it will depend on the data that would be released next week.  Last year’s domestic sales of Toyota was up by 13.8% to 1.53 million vehicles and its Lexus line up was sold with an increase of 18.5% to 33,365 vehicles.  As per this data Toyota expects a fall of 12% in domestic sales to 1.93 million vehicles in 2011.   Honda Motor Co. recorded 5.1% increase with sales of 486,774 vehicles last year.  Nissan has recorded 7.4% increase in sales to 499,252 vehicles in the domestic market last year.

As such the auto dealers association has not predicted anything for 2011.  However, The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association expects a drop in vehicle sales from 3.23 million in 2010 to 13% to 2.81 million in 2011 and which does not include mini models.  Whatever increase in sales is seen is mostly because of the incentives given by the Japanese government.  But the government aid ended in September, showing the immediate effect on sales figures.

In spite of the transient peak of sales in 2010, Japanese automakers do not have much hope with domestic sales in 2011.  As Japanese currency is becoming expensive, automakers think that getting vehicles build at abroad and importing back to Japan is much cheaper.  As such Mitsubishi has a tradition manufacturing cars in Thailand and exporting from there.  Since 1988 Mitsubishi expanded its exports to over 140 countries like Australia, Africa, Asia Europe and Latin America.

Japan to create Fuel-Cell Car Market by 2015

Japan to build 100 hydrogen stations for fuel-cell cars by 2015

To combat the skyrocketing gas prices and to comply with the tightening environmental standards, Japanese auto makers are fiercely promoting the new electric and hybrid cars that offer a green alternative to the combustion engine.  Japanese auto makers including Toyota, Honda and Nissan are also contemplating to mass produce and market the next generation vehicles powered by fuel cells, in the Japanese domestic market by 2015.  Top car, gas and oil companies in Japan have come together to create the infrastructure needed to run hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.  Their strategy is to first create a domestic market for this new technology and then compete with rivals in other countries.

These eco-friendly vehicles will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel-cell cars will use the electricity generated by the reaction between oxygen and hydrogen.  These vehicles powered by fuel cells are currently not available for sale in Japan.

Top Japanese car as well as oil and gas companies have confirmed the plan regarding fuel-cell car development during next five years.  They have united to establish the required infrastructure to bring fuel-cell vehicles in the market.  Ten energy companies in Japan have given their consent for their coordinated efforts for such expansion in a joint announcement with Nissan, Toyota and Honda.  Japanese oil companies and gas suppliers will need to build nearly hundred hydrogen supply stations in four major cities – Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya.  These cities are expected to get ready for the hydrogen powered fuel-cell vehicle launch.

Wide feedback is expected for the improvement of fuel-cell vehicles as there is a rising demand for eco vehicles.  Also, fuel-cell cars have a larger range than electric vehicles and they generate electricity by converting hydrogen with water and heat as a by-product.  However, the current cost of infrastructure is very high.  As per the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, approximately 600 million yen are required to construct one hydrogen fueling station.  But Oil and Gas firms hope to reduce the costs to nearly 200 million yen, when they will construct around hundred hydrogen stations.  As per executive vice-president of Toyota, as the technology become more commonplace, it would ultimately help to drop down the prices and he believes that the fuel-cell cars could be available for less than 8,000,000 yen.

The Japanese government has agreed to review the rules and regulations in order to establish this low-carbon cars concept.  And if needed, they will revise the rules by March, 2013 so as to create a fuel-cell cars market by 2015.  Government of Japan will levy a new tax on users of primary fossil fuel and will further take action to meet the country’s ambition to reduce gas emissions by twenty-five percent in next ten years.

Strict environmental standards are actually encouraging factor for the developments in hybrid cars combustion engine.  Currently hybrid cars have more demand in Japan’s domestic market and same demand is expected in near future for electric vehicles.  At present fuel-cell vehicles are not available in market but the major car companies are working on the concept of commercializing of fuel cell car concept.