japanese auto

Japanese auto giants band together to keep ICE alive


Nicknamed ‘Team Japan’, five Japanese manufacturers are joining forces to keep internal combustion engines alive for many years to come.

Under the initiative, kicked off Nov. 13 by Toyota Motor Corp., a coalition of five Japanese companies (Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Subaru, Toyota, Mazda, and Yamaha) will explore new, greener fueling options for internal combustion.

Mazda and Toyota will work together to develop an engine that runs on biodiesel. Subaru will work with Toyota to develop biomass-derived fuels. Kawasaki and Yamaha will explore the possibility of collaborating on joint hydrogen research for two-wheeled applications.

“By promoting further collaboration in producing, transporting and using fuel in combination with internal combustion engines, the five companies aim to provide customers with greater choice,” the companies said in a release. The five companies also said they will:

  • Participate in races using carbon-neutral fuels
  • Explore the use of hydrogen engines in two-wheel and other vehicles
  • Continue to race using hydrogen engines.

The announcement came during a joint conference at the Okayama International Circuit on the occasion of the Super Taikyu Race. It also comes as Toyota pushes back on the notion that electric vehicles are the only way to achieve carbon neutrality. The giant carmaker believes technological breakthroughs, such as hydrogen engines, can give internal combustion a new lease on life — saving jobs as well as the environment. Time will tell if the proposed alternatives are viable solutions, but what’s for sure it that some companies don’t want to put all of their eggs in the same basket by going all-electric.

Meanwhile, Japan’s car exports continued to slump in October, seeing a 36.7% fall from a year earlier amid a global chip crunch and parts supply disruptions in Southeast Asia that forced domestic automakers to reduce production, government data showed Wednesday (Nov. 17).

“Car exports are believed to have already bottomed out based on the production plans of automakers, but whether they will move toward normalization soon is still uncertain” as the semiconductor shortage is expected to drag on, The Japan Times quoted Kazuma Maeda, an economist at Barclays Securities Japan Ltd as saying.

“The supply issue will remain as a risk factor to suppress Japan’s exports at least until the first half of next year,” Maeda added.