Micro-vehicles e-mobility in Japan

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2017)


Among the e-mobility initiatives taken all over Japan, whether supported by public funding (national or local), or launched by private companies from diverse origins and with different strategies (car-makers, parking providers, railways companies, but also convenience store etc.), the recent booming of micro-vehicles experiments deserve a special attention.

Japanese car makers but also newcomers are now competing on this new 1-2 seated small electric vehicles segment. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) is considering the creation of a special category for these vehicles. Cities, concerned with traffic jam and CO2 emissions, population ageing etc., are welcoming experiments which might serve as test bed for a new urban mobility concept to emerge, (sharing instead of owning, integrated multimodal services instead of modal choice, connected...), prefiguring the smart mobility future city.

The paper will address all these issues, both from the demand and from the supply side to evaluate if this new market segment is really answering population needs at least to the level of government and makers expectations.

To do so, it will first look at the challenges Japan is facing which explain why the Japanese government is seeing micro-mobility as a possible solution to answer new population or society needs. It will then focus on the public action or measures taken to create an initial demand for these small e-vehicles, analysing the market potential as estimated by the government in quantitative but also qualitative terms while taking into account incentives/subsidies schemes but also the regulation issue. Turning to the supply side and looking at the vehicles offer or on-going experimentations, two micro-EVs car-sharing systems experiments will be used to illustrate the users profile, behaviour changes and related societal aspects. Finally, comparing qualitative estimates with results of users’ surveys, the paper will argue that the market, if any, is for the moment at least, more supply pushed than demand pulled.

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