“From Automobile Industry to Mobility Industry? TOYOTA and Japan’s automobile industry and mobility policies”.

Publication Type:

Conference Paper

Source:

Gerpisa colloquium, Brussels (2023)

Abstract:

Undoubtedly, the automobile industry is at a turning point. Partially propelled by the COVID pandemic, policy makers in the advanced industrial countries have announced policies that will fundamentally change the industry.
First, combatting climate change the USA, the EU and Japan have committed themselves to achieve Carbon Neutrality (CN) by at latest 2050 and announced far reaching policies and strategies to decarbonize their economies.
Secondly, related to the above CN strategies, basically the EU as well as the UK, Norway and others have decided to completely abandon the internal combustion engine (ICE).
Thirdly, shifting to battery electric vehicles and considering the quickly proceeding electronification of the automobile, car and supply part manufacturers are increasingly aware of the fact that securing the resilience of their supply chains for batteries and micro-chips has become a strategic issue in order to maintain competitiveness, for which they also need the support of the national policy makers.
These changes are affecting all manufacturers worldwide. With this respect many aspects of Japan’s CN strategy and Green Growth strategy announced in 2019 also closely resemble similar strategies of other countries or country associations like the EU.
However, one aspect seems different and attracts attention. More than in other countries, not just a shift to electro-mobility, but new intelligent ways of arranging and organizing individual and public mobility are still a major concern in Japan. Due to country specific peculiarities like extremely dense population in metropolitan areas, a traditionally well-functioning, reliable and high-quality rail based public transport system, as well as the vulnerability of Japan to natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunami and typhoons, the shift to electric cars is perceived to provide new opportunities to adapt individual mobility needs to the specific circumstances in Japan.
Since the very beginning of Japan’s efforts to introduce electric vehicles or so-called “next generation” vehicles, all government’s plans were also intended to test new forms of mobility like car sharing or the integration of public and private transport etc. One central aspect of these attempts to establish new private mobility options integrated with housing and public transport was, as indicated above, to establish systems that were much more resilient in case of natural disasters like earthquakes that regularly disrupt transport infrastructure as well as water, gas and electricity lifelines. At the forefront of these efforts always was TOYOTA. With the “Woven City”, a city developing project on a former TOYOTA factory site near the town of Susono in Shizuoka prefecture, TOYOTA entered a new stage in the effort to modernize the living environment and mobility infrastructure in Japan. Whether with new forms of mobility the company will change from an automobile producer to a mobility provider, as TOYOTA claims, however, remains to be seen.
Against the historical background of Japan’s infrastructure and mobility policies and its CN strategies, the paper will mainly focus on the efforts of Toyota and other Japanese manufacturers for providing new mobility solutions beyond the mere shift from ICE to battery-electric vehicles.

 

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