Historically and traditionally, Asian neighbors Japan and China have not been the best of friends. Fortunately today the feud usually hits business aspects mostly – for example the expansion towards alternative power technologies in the automotive business.
Japan and China are Asia’s two auto powerhouses, with South Korea a rather distant third and the duo are also fighting for supremacy in the field that could become the most important in the near future – alternative power sources. Today, the battle has established electricity is the asset, with the remaining issue to be sorted out being the means of delivery: from fuel cells powered by batteries or from batteries. This is a clash for the ages to come – potentially reminiscent of the iconic battle between the Beta vs. VHS video war of the 1980s – as the winner could reign supreme for decades if the technology it has developed would become incur worldwide adoption as a manufacturing standard. “We’re reaching a crossroads,” comments an industry consultant for IHS Automotive. “It’s difficult to exaggerate the significance of the choice between batteries and hydrogen. Billions of dollars will be invested in one or the other and may determine which companies will lead the industry through the end of this century.”
China, the world’s largest auto market and still an emerging economy that has massive issues with air pollution, has decided to favor mostly battery operated all-electric autos. The government sees the technology as a way of growing into a dominant industry, not just one that grows and delivers hefty profits. Japan on the other hand has decided to build a “hydrogen society”, investing heavily in fuel cell technology and infrastructure as part of its national policy.