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Japan readies fuel cell subsidies for Toyota's next project

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TOKYO Jul. 28, 2014; Yoko Kubota and Maki Shiraki writing for Japan Today reported that Japan Inc. is readying subsidies to help Toyota Motor Corp and key suppliers take the lead in hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles that could top 40 billion yen over the next several years if the most bullish projections for the technology play out.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s planned consumer rebates of at least 2 million yen per vehicle would be the largest government support plan for hydrogen vehicles yet, raising the stakes for a commercially unproven technology with roots in the space race that Toyota and others see headed for the mainstream over the coming decades.

The taxpayer-funded program would bring down the cost of Toyota’s soon-to-be-launched hydrogen-powered fuel cell car to around 5 million yen in Japan, about the cost of a small luxury sedan such as the BMW 3 Series.

Abe announced the outline of the plan last week and details are still being finalised.

The cost savings could be enough to make the Toyota vehicle affordable for taxi operators and other companies with fleets of vehicles within driving range of the 100 hydrogen fuelling stations that Japan expects to have built by March 2015.

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