Japanese automakers band together on hydrogen infrastructure

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2017 Toyota Mirai

2017 Toyota Mirai

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Eleven firms from Japan's automotive and energy industries are banding together on hydrogen infrastructure.

The firms, which include major automakers Toyota, Nissan and Honda, have signed a memorandum of understanding on collaboration toward the large-scale construction of hydrogen stations for fuel cell vehicles in Japan.

The other firms include JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy, Idemitsu Kosan, Iwatani Corporation, Tokyo Gas, Toho Gas, Air Liquide Japan, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, and the Development Bank of Japan Inc.

The collaboration is backed by the Japanese government whose most recent target for hydrogen infrastructure calls for 160 operational hydrogen stations and 40,000 fuel cell cars present by 2020. That might not seem like a lot of cars but recall that Toyota managed to sell just 1,034 Mirais in the United States in all of 2016.

2017 Toyota Mirai

2017 Toyota Mirai

Enlarge Photo

A stated goal for the collaboration is to establish a company to oversee the installation of the hydrogen stations as well as develop ways to reduce the costs.

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

Despite the best efforts of hydrogen proponents, it’s clear the market is turning towards battery-powered electric cars when it comes to alternative fuels. Tesla is on its way to becoming an established, high-volume automaker and most of the major automakers from the United States and Europe have committed to adding many more electric cars.

Whether there’s space for both technologies or whether we’re facing another VHS versus Betamax battle remains to be seen.

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