Japanese automakers, energy firms form new company for hydrogen filling stations

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Japan’s three major automakers Toyota, Nissan and Honda have teamed up with local energy firms and the Japanese government to form a new company whose purpose is to roll out hydrogen filling stations.

The company, which will be established next spring, has an initial goal of 160 stations to be up and running in Japan by 2020, at which point it is expected there will be 40,000 fuel cell cars on the road. The company will also look at ways to improve the costs and efficiencies of delivering hydrogen to customers.

There are 11 firms behind the new company, most of them coming from the energy sector. The others include JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy, Idemitsu Kosan, Iwatani Corporation, Tokyo Gas, Toho Gas, Air Liquide Japan, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, and the state-owned Development Bank of Japan Inc.

The news follows the formation in January of a global council to promote hydrogen as a future energy solution. In this case, too, the collaboration was composed of automakers and energy firms.

It makes one wonder why, given the choice between charging up a battery-powered electric car in the comfort of one’s home or following the old model of paying—presumably more—an energy firm for hydrogen at a filling station, vehicle owners would choose hydrogen over batteries. Making the argument even harder to justify is the fact that vehicle owners with sufficient solar panels also have the opportunity to be energy independent with battery-powered electric cars.

It’s no surprise then that sales of battery-powered electric cars continue to grow, with automakers racing to deliver dozens of new models. In contrast, only a handful of fuel cell cars are coming, and then only in a few select areas.

Also making it hard for proponents of hydrogen is news that major automakers in Europe and the United States have joined forces to roll out a fast-charging network for battery-powered electric cars under the name Ionity. By 2020, Ionity will have around 400 charging stations across multiple European countries.

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