The Asian country has set itself as the promoter of the incumbent fuel cell drive technology, but it appears its ambitious goal of reaching about 100 hydrogen-fuelling stations would be missed.
Japan has promised to have the 100 stations threshold for refilling fuel cell vehicles in operation on its roads by March 2016, but only 76 have been approved so far and the deadline to seek government incentives has passed in March. The state had pledged 21.38 billion yen ($178.37 million) over three years to assist the companies that wanted to invest in the construction and operation of hydrogen refueling stations by March 2016 – Japan seeks initial leadership as a hydrogen-prone society that would be based on fuel cell cars such as Toyota’s Mirai or the upcoming Honda rival. But, according to government figures, the last portion of a supplementary budget of 9.59 billion yen for this fiscal year has earmarked just 32 stations (besides the already approved 44) – a statement that companies are not yet hooked on the unproven business opportunity.
Additionally, the only commercially available fuel cell car is Toyota’s Mirai, which started sales back in December. Toyota itself has already announced that production would be of only three cars per day, gradually lifting the quota to around 3,000 units by 2017. Honda has pledged to start sales of its own fuel cell alternative by March 2016, and so far has not disclosed any sales goal for the model. Industry experts say that even as the government subsidies around half of the $5 million rough cost of hydrogen filling station, the operators stand to lose money for at least ten years.