Japan auto show returns, playing catchup on EVs

The rebranded auto show in Tokyo makes a return this weekend, coinciding with China’s imminent surpassing of Japan as the world’s leading car exporter. Japanese automakers, including Toyota and Nissan, have faced challenges in the electric vehicle (EV) sector, resulting in a sluggish performance in the domestic EV market. Only 1.7 percent of cars sold in Japan in 2022 were electric, compared to approximately 15 percent in Western Europe, 5.3 percent in the United States, and almost 20 percent in China.

Toyota Motor President Koji Sato showcased new electric vehicle concepts at the Japan Mobility Show, but the country is well behind its rivals in the fast-growing market
Japanese companies, such as Suzuki and Toyota, ranked poorly in a Greenpeace evaluation of phasing out internal combustion engines. Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker by revenue, ranked third from the bottom, with less than one in 400 Toyotas sold being EVs. Japanese manufacturers have traditionally focused on hybrid vehicles, blending battery power with internal combustion engines, a field they pioneered with models like the Toyota Prius.

However, foreign EVs are gaining traction in the market, with Chinese automakers entering the scene even in Japan. This shift poses challenges for Japanese brands, which face criticisms of limited product offerings, weaker price competitiveness, and performance issues compared to their Chinese counterparts. Mitsubishi Motors, affected by challenges in the Chinese market, recently announced a production halt in China.



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Written by George Addo

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