On November 15, Japanese Tesla and EV owners shared their love for electric vehicles by gathering around Mount Fuji and drawing WE ❤️ EV with their vehicles under the mountain. Hiro Mizuno, Tesla’s newest board member, whose entire career has been in finance and investment, shared the story on Twitter, noting that the Japanese EV market, a nascent market, is about to be awakened by these enthusiastic owners.
Japanese EV owners gathered to share their fun experience as EV owners between them and most importantly with ICE car owners. They drew WE ❤️ EV by EVs under Mat Fuji. Japanese EV market is still nascent market by its about to be awaken by these enthusiastic owners. https://t.co/sWvbQEt8Ob
— HIRO MIZUNO (@hiromichimizuno) November 16, 2020
Automotive Media Response reported that the event was held at Asagiri Food Park at the foot of Mount Fuji and included some gas cars as well. The reason why gas cars were invited to participate was to encourage owners of these vehicles to experience an electric vehicle — it was an educational opportunity. Teslas weren’t the only electric vehicles at this event. Other electric vehicles included the Nissan Leaf, Nissan e-NV200, Jaguar i-PACE, Audi e-tron Sportback, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and Volkswagen e-Golf, and several more. Tesla Japan was also present.
Only EV owners had to pay a participation fee for this event — 2,500 yen ($24) per vehicle. The article noted that the mountainous road was perfect for testing torque. The article also noted that many Tesla owners who owned a Model X planned to sync the famous Model X dance.
素晴らしいスタッフ(samurai)の勇姿です！@model3yokohama @hiro_o4ll @shinichi_fj @sono106 @bonoda @kawazakae @mat2ate7 @atana720
彼たちあっての実現です。@teslamotorsjp さんの協力も感謝。WE❤️EV！発信し続けます！#jem #japanevmeetup #weloveev pic.twitter.com/sJAclBFegH
— HAMMER＠JEM Organizer EV Evangelist (@studioalon_jem) November 16, 2020
JAPAN EV MEET UP2020
— モデル3のある生活 (@brz_2015) November 15, 2020
Japan’s Fossil Fuel Addiction May Hurt Its EV Advantages
The Japan Times noted that Japan has a high reliance on fossil fuels for electricity generation, and this reliance is hurting the rollout of EVs in terms of cutting Japan’s carbon emissions. Although Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, pledged to make the country carbon neutral by 2050, over 75% of the country’s electricity is generated by coal, liquefied natural gas, and oil. Atsushi Inaba, president of Japan Life Cycle Assessment Facilitation Center, pointed out that Japan has some work to do.
“To cut emissions, Japan has to increase the ratio of electricity generated by renewable energies to at least 30%, or to the average level of European Union countries,” said Inaba. He also added that “Japan has to accelerate a shift to renewable resources including hydrogen to build up the country’s new energy strategy to lower carbon emissions not only from EVs but also from society as a whole.”
Along with a Mazda Motor Corp. research team, Inaba’s organization conducted a life cycle assessment of EVs in Japan and in the EU. The goal was to measure the carbon footprint left from extraction and processing raw materials, manufacturing, shipment, and use. In Japan, models were found to release more carbon dioxide than gas vehicles until their driving distance reached over 111,000 km.
In the EU, Inaba’s research found that EVs emit less carbon dioxide than gas vehicles after reaching 76,545 km, due to the larger penetration of electricity generated by renewable energy, Inaba noted. The article also noted that electric vehicles are being introduced more slowly in Japan, where automakers have a milder target that requires 50% to 70% of their vehicles to have a “next-generation” power source by 2030 — but this includes “clean” diesel engines.
Of the 5.04 million vehicles sold in Japan in 2019, 1.48 million were electrified vehicles, including conventional hybrid models. The sales of pure EVs, plugin hybrids, and fuel cell vehicles totaled 38,585 units, or just 0.8% of the overall figure, despite government subsidies for the Nissan Leaf EV of ¥420,000 ($4,050).
Renewable Energy In Japan?
For Japan to reduce its dependency on coal, it needs to focus more on renewables. Earlier this month, Nikkei Asia reported that overseas companies are taking a dominant role in Japan’s renewable energy. China has a growing presence in solar panels, while European countries are exporting wind turbines to the country.
This push into Japan by foreign companies, the article noted, may revitalize Japan’s renewables market and create jobs outside of the larger cities. However, profits could continue to flow outside of Japan if these overseas players take the lead. Japan will need to create a way to benefit domestic companies if it wants to be the star of its own development in the next generation of renewable energy technology.
There is a bit of hope, though. Passionate electric vehicle enthusiasts who are spreading the love for clean energy will definitely make their voices louder, and their impact will make a difference. With leaders such as Hiro Mizuno empowering the voices of passionate EV enthusiasts, I believe this will lead to solving the problem of coal dependency and embracing renewable energy.