As a result of discussions that began in May 2017, Toyota, Nissan and Honda have partnered eight other firms to form a new company in mid-2018, aimed at the full-fledged development of hydrogen recharging stations (HRS) for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs).
The other firms include six infrastructure developers (JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation, Idemitsu Kosan Co, Iwatani Corporation, Tokyo Gas Co, Toho Gas Co, Air Liquide Japan) and two financial institutions (Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Development Bank of Japan).
The new company will be established to accelerate Japan's hydrogen initiative―which is driven mainly by these 11 companies―toward the achievement of Japan's common target shared by the government and industries regarding the development of hydrogen recharging stations. According to the ‘Strategic Road Map for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells’ released by the Council for a Strategy for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, an industry body organised by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan, in the initial phase of promoting fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen, the target penetration is 160 stations and 40,000 fuel cell vehicles by FY2020.
The objective of the new company is to enhance the collaboration among infrastructure developers, automakers, and financial institutions in order to simultaneously accelerate and scale up Japan's deployment of HRS and FCV.
The new company will, while taking into account subsidies from the national government and initiatives of local governments, develop its own original ‘Hydrogen Recharging Station Deployment Plan’, to create an environment in which many users can enjoy driving FCVs in Japan.
In order to encourage customers to use hydrogen, the new company will improve the convenience of stations, coordinating with the Association of Hydrogen Supply and Utilization Technology (HySUT), which has already begun actively expanding the market, for example by extending the number of service days per week to meet increased demand.
The new company will also collaborate with external organisations, such as the Fuel Cell Commercialization Conference of Japan (FCCJ) and HySUT, to reduce cost by addressing issues such as the standardisation of equipment and revision of regulations.
While infrastructure developers will invest in and construct hydrogen recharging stations, and operate them, on behalf of the new company, automakers will contribute financially to the operations of the new company in order to efficiently deploy hydrogen recharging stations, improve convenience for users, and boost public awareness, while also striving for higher penetration of fuel cell vehicles.
Financial institutions will partially cover HRS deployment costs through investments. By providing the funds necessary until the HRS business becomes commercially sustainable, financial institutions will help reduce the financial burden borne by infrastructure developers during Phase 1 and will help attract new participants.
The new company will aim to seek wider participation by HRS-operating companies and investors, to achieve a sustainable HRS business and FCV penetration as swiftly as possible, thus contributing to the creation of a full-fledged hydrogen society in Japan.