Japan’s EV Market Face Major Hurdles


Because of disasters in the past few years, many of Japan’s nuclear power plants were shut down for fears of replicating the Fukushima Power Plant. Now, as the Japanese government tries to restart dozens of nuclear power plants, the cost of electricity would surely increase.

Japan has for decades relied on nuclear power to generate electricity. This was long recognized as an alternative, clean, and zero emission to the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity. Because of the abundance and lower cost of electricity, the electric vehicle became the next step for the technology savvy society. Because of the recent disasters though, and the projected higher costs for nuclear power, this may eventually taint the use and production of electric cars.

According to Ryuichi Kino, an expert on nuclear power and hybrid technology, nuclear power remains a key source of fuel, “the green image of the electric car will get bashed to bits, maybe to the extent it will be irreparable. I have the feeling it’s quite possible that might happen.”

Just before the tsunami swept through the Fukushima plant, the government was already planning to increase the nuclear power supply from a third to half of the needs of the country’s electric grid. These plans though have since been shelved and now, a year after the disaster, many of the idled nuclear power plants would again go online after completion of safety checks have been undertaken.

Many critics have raised howls with these safety checks are viewed as inadequate. This is most especially highlighted, as the damage from the worst nuclear incident since Chernobyl still casts a long twenty kilometer no go zone shadow around Fukushima, and its surrounding areas still would be highly irradiated for years to come. Others are proposing alternative sources, such as wind or wave power, where these technologies are still pretty much in its infancy in Japan.

One such proponent is Ryuichi Sakamoto, a renowned composer and opponent of nuclear power. He received quite a number of criticisms when he appeared in the most recent Nissan Leaf commercial. In response, Sakamoto replied, “How we make electricity is going to diversify, with fossil and nuclear power declining. People should be able to choose the kind of electricity they want to use.”

Another major hurdle is the lack of infrastructure available to electric cars. This together with its higher sticker price has contributed to the lackluster performance of electric cars in the Japanese auto market.

EV Demand Making Used Car Sales Take Notice


As the car market changes, the secondary car markets - such as used car market - is also heeding the changes. The current demand is for low mileage vehicles, even in the second hand market, and used car salesmen are taking notice.

The current car market is in a state of flux. The recent recession has caused major demand shortfalls from Japan and the increasing legislation regarding efficient mileage is exerting pressure on an already volatile market. Negotiations for trade-ins often are done in mere minutes especially when your car is considered a premium used car.

A premium car in today’s market is smaller and more fuel-efficient cars or older model hybrids or electric vehicles. These cars are between two to five years of age.

These cars command prices. In August, the average trade in value for these premium cars was at $10,489 while midsize vehicles sold for $12,529, while midsize luxury cars sell for an average of $25,426. These prices though are not one off purchases by dealers and are often attached to an eventual purchase made by the car owner.

There are many reasons for higher demand for these premium vehicles. These include downsizing, newer technology and safety features or lease expiry.

There is also a clear demand for older or first-generation hybrids or electric vehicles. This comes after newer models come off the showroom, the first hybrid owners now want the newer technologies offered in the latest models. After their purchase they sell off their old alternative fuel vehicles that are then snapped up in the market. Even auto leases have been offered outright purchases of their older hybrid vehicles for a premium price because of the clamor from the secondary market for hybrid or alternative technology vehicles.

Clearly, the electric car revolution is having its trickle down effect. While the greater majority of the car owners may not have the purchasing capacity to buy the latest electric vehicle, the secondary market now provides the opportunity to own one fuel efficient or alternatively fuelled vehicle in your own garage.