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Overcoming barriers to developing and diffusing fuel-cell vehicles: Governance strategies and experiences in Japan


  • Trencher, Gregory
  • Taeihagh, Araz
  • Yarime, Masaru


To accelerate the electrification of road transport, numerous countries are promoting the diffusion of both Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Fuel-Cell Vehicles (FCVs). Both technologies hold unique advantages and disadvantages while also facing common barriers with regard to production and diffusion. Barriers may be classified into four categories: 1) supply-side (i.e. vehicle production), 2) infrastructure preparation (i.e. charging and fuelling), 3) demand-side (i.e. spurring societal demand) and 4) institutional design (i.e. stimulating investments and the availability of technology). Relative to BEV literature, studies on FCV diffusion efforts are fewer. Also, while many studies highlight numerous diffusion barriers, knowledge on actual governance strategies to overcome these is lacking. Filling this gap, we examine governance measures used by government and industry in Japan to accelerate the development and diffusion of FCVs. The above framework is applied to examine coping strategies employed, unresolved challenges and potential ways to overcome these. Data are sourced from expert interviews and document analysis. Findings reveal robust measures to tackle supply-side and infrastructure challenges. Conversely, demand-side measures rely on public subsidies and lack regulatory instruments to stimulate vehicle demand. Also, institutional strategies to increase the pool of FCV makers are lacking visible outcomes. We thus lay out several policy suggestions to overcome these unresolved challenges.

Suggested Citation

  • Trencher, Gregory & Taeihagh, Araz & Yarime, Masaru, 2020. "Overcoming barriers to developing and diffusing fuel-cell vehicles: Governance strategies and experiences in Japan," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 142(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:142:y:2020:i:c:s0301421520302780
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2020.111533

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