Plug-In Electric Car Sales In Japan Decreased In 2018

FEB 1 2019 BY MARK KANE 25

Only 1 per 100 cars sold in Japan was a plug-in in 2018

The Japanese plug-in electric car market loses its momentum. In 2018 some 52,000 plug-ins were sold, which sadly decreased by 7% year-over-year.

Also, the market share decreased by 0.1% to 1.0%, way below the level seen in leading countries. It’s not a good sign about 8-10 years since the introduction of the first series produced Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan LEAF, which put Japan on the forefront.

The reason behind the lower sales is Toyota Prius Plug-In, which was previously a top model and in 2018 experienced collapse by 54%. It was too much to be offset by the Nissan LEAF (up 52%) and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (up 47%).

Anyways, the perspectives for 2019 are positive because of the new Nissan LEAF e+ with a 62 kWh battery, which alone should pull the market up.

Source: EV Sales Blog

Categories: Sales

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25 Comments on "Plug-In Electric Car Sales In Japan Decreased In 2018"

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The lack of Suzuki, Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Subaru options is probably the reason for the low marketshare in Japan.

Toyota offers Plug-in Prius, Honda offers Clarity BEV and PHEV.

Mazda and Subaru are becoming affiliates of Toyota and will soon offer rebadged Toyota PEV.

The Japanese government is still suffering the consequences of the hydrogen fantasy, which set back all Japanese automakers, especially in their tiny home market. And their close market is resistant to allowing competition in, so they will get left behind for a few years, until their Japanese brands get up to speed with BEVs.

PHEVs are still dirty, like smoking while on the treadmill.

You are free to buy whatever car you want in Japan, and DC chargers are every few miles. No other country has better charging network. Nobody set back Nissan that is selling Leaf for many years. Climate is moderate in Japan and Leaf battery degradation should not be an issue.

I think you are still suffering from the fantasy that expensive plugins must be somehow convenient to 100% of population not matter what. Even if larger part of population lives in high-rise buildings with no convenient overnight charging access and don’t drive that much in big cars & trucks as in the US to realize hypothetical fuel tax savings.

I live in Japan. Yes, there are many DC fast chargers. But the electricity is expensive there, many of them have only 25kW or just 15kW and even on the highway, there is 30 min limit and only ONE slot. So as for me I would not risk that this one slot is occupied when Im in a hurry. So YES, Japan IS covered but its FAR from perfect.

Japan needs to make a national effort to solve the problem with chronic electricity shortage which it created by shutting down nearly all its commercial nuclear power plants. I suppose we’ll never see exponential growth of BEVs in Japan so long as they have an electricity shortage.

If Japan can’t start relying on renewable energy for most of its grid power, then it needs to invest in a new generation of nuclear power plants. Something like Nu-Scale’s small modular reactors, with a design that is at least in theory truly fail-safe, unlike all current nuclear power plants, might be the best way forward.

I certainly hope Japan does not pursue plans to mine methane clathrates from the seabed; the very last thing this planet needs is for humans to find and exploit another large source of hydrocarbons to burn for energy!

@ P-P

China is investing a lot of money in solar energy.

Why doesn’t Japan invest in solar energy?

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Japan had 50GW of solar by the end of 2017.
The USA had an estimated total of just under 50GW by the end of November 2018.

What made you think that they weren’t investing in solar?

No room

There is a surprising amount of unused land in Japan. Most of it’s uninhabitable due to inhospitable terrain; mountains, etc. That means such areas are not easily accessible, but it’s not merely a lack of sufficient area. One can certainly argue that such areas are not suitable for installation of solar farms, because there are no access roads in such areas; but it’s at least physically (altho perhaps not economically) possible to put solar farms there.

For example, the northernmost island in Japan, Hokkaidō, is mostly uninhabited; the island as a whole has a population density of 72 people/km^2… altho to be fair, that’s still far greater population density than Alaska, at 1.3/mile^2.

Japan’s electricity rates have been rising, .. now about $.26/kWh. More renewables will likely cause a further increase…. (Germany (one of the highest % of renewables) is up to $.33/kWh)

Factor in higher rates for public charge (quick charge) and $5.00 gasoline starts to look good.

/or, your average Haruto just gets priced out of vehicle ownership.
//kinda like Francois, who is already pretty well taxed out of the gasoline, and electricity rates are climbing …. so you get mass protests in the streets

And dont forget that 20% od registered cars in Japan (excluding kei category) are hybrids. Hybrids are seen everywhere in Japan.

Note Japan only had 25000 BEV sales in all of 2018. Tesla make more BEVs in one month than Japan buy in a full year.

Surely the dip is demand led. I don’t believe electricity is so restricted it is putting people off. It’s just the lack of supply of EVs with viable range at a price people can afford. The UK is similarly restricted. 52 week wait for a new Kona and similar delays for iPace, e-golf and others. Tesla model 3 and VW ID should see things change heading into 2020.

Japan has even lower average kilometers per year than Europe (~12000km vs ~9500km). So it is currently hard to justify buying a BEV from a financial perspective.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Maybe it was because Toyota needed to shift more of their meager production of Primes to the USA, whether to meet the higher CARB credit targets, prop up Prius sales overall or both.

Could the Nissan Note be affecting things? They sold 95,000 ePower versions last year making it one of Japan’s best selling cars. It’s not an EV but could be attracting eco-minded consumers. It looks like there are still very few long range EV options in Japan so people are probably sticking with convention hybrids until the 200+ mile options start hitting the market.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

It could also be other hybrids. Sales of the regular Prius were significantly down overall in Japan last year, but other Toyota hybrid sales increased. A plug-in option on a vehicle that people don’t really want has to be special.

The model 3 is erasing Prius sales – so I’ve heard.

It looks like it isn’t available yet in Japan – . I suppose you could make an argument that people are delaying future purchases. That is a difficult case to prove until we see future Model 3 and Prius sales.

They sell something like 500 Model S/X per year. In 120+ million country.
Model 3 should be much more popular as it is smaller and more likely to fit into parking spaces. But it is still big, expensive, and most likely will not have adapter hassle free access to standard chargers that are every few miles in Japan.
Not likely to become mainstream market purchase judging by S/X demand.

I suggest another explanation – Japan is densely populated and people overwhelmingly live in urban environments – small apartments etc. People just don’t have where to charge their cars and there are only so much of them that live in houses or can charge at their garage or parking spot (also a luxury).

IMO if you can’t charge your car at home there is no point of buying an EV, even if you buy a Tesla using public charging for ALL your trips would be a major PITA. This puts an upper limit of how many people would buy EVs in countries like Japan and their market could easily be saturated already.

Any idea why the drop in Prius Prime sales? And here I was thinking the reason Toyota was limiting the car so much in the USA was because of big demand in Japan and Europe. I guess that isn’t the case? So, is it a demand issue or a supply issue on the Prime?

Yes. It’s January

this is a significant information when some experts say the ICE has peaked.
Did ICE sales decrease in Japan in 2018 also?