TOKYO: Japan aims to expand the domestic market for zero- and low-emission cars to one million vehicles by 2030, a more than twenty-fold increase from current demand, according to Japan's Kyodo News.
The target, part of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's push for carbon neutrality, is expected to be included in a new action plan on the government's growth strategy to be finalised within the year, which will also call for significantly boosting investment in renewable energy.
Sales of electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles totalled around 40,000 units in 2019, less than one per cent of all passenger cars sold in Japan.
A shift to such zero- and low-emission vehicles would be in line with the global trend away from fossil fuels on the road, though it would be less ambitious than countries such as Britain, which has vowed to ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030.
"The electrification of automobiles is progressing faster than anticipated. Japan must aim to become a leader in this field," a draft of the action plan said.
Japan will increase its reliance on offshore wind farms, aiming to add 30 gigawatts in capacity by 2040, the equivalent of 30 large thermal power generators.
Offshore wind farms currently account for just 20,000 kilowatts, or 0.02 gigawatt, of Japan's power generation, all from government projects. The country has been criticised for its reliance on coal, while restarting nuclear plants remains controversial following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Japan will also promote research into innovative technologies such as hydrogen fuel, next-generation batteries and carbon recycling through "national projects," with partner firms expected to deliver concrete results by 2030.
Suga has made tackling climate change a focus of his administration, pledging to achieve carbon neutrality, or net zero carbon emissions, by 2050. The action plan has the dual aims of helping achieve this goal and spurring economic recovery from the fallout of the novel coronavirus.