With the Japanese government eyeing to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050, key automakers in the country now have the impetus to begin their transition towards electric vehicles (EVs). Japanese OEMs have lagged competitors in other regions in the transition to EVs. This is despite many investing in research and development around the tech, but they put it on the back burner, waiting for the right time, while others did not develop the required EV expertise that matches with the current market dynamics. However, given the governmental targets, and increasing intrusion of technology giants in EV manufacturing and supply, Japanese OEMs have been quite active recently in partnering/collaborating with various stakeholders for developing EVs, connected cars and related technologies.
Suzuki and Daihatsu joining the Commercial Japan Partnership (CJP) – commercial vehicle partnership in Japan between Toyota Motor Corporation, Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Hino Motors Ltd. for developing BEVs, FCEVs, autonomous, connected technologies and EV platform, adds a broader perspective to the partnership with inclusion of mini-vehicles or ‘Kei Cars’ in the scope from the earlier ‘commercial vehicle only’ focus.
While CJP is Japan-focused, the respective OEMs already have some global partnerships related to electric and autonomous vehicles. Suzuki and Toyota have a global partnership for passenger vehicles. Toyota also has a joint venture in China with FAW, Dongfeng Motor, Guangzhou Automobile Group, Beijing Automotive Group and Beijing SinoHytec for FCEVs. Isuzu has a global partnership with Volvo, and Hino has partnered with BYD in China and TRATON in Europe and Asia -Pacific. The ‘Japan-focus’ is expected to scale up the battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) development in the country which for years have been overpowered by hybrid vehicles in passenger cars and is at a nascent stage in commercial vehicles.
CJP partnership aims to combine Toyota’s connected, autonomous and electric technologies with the commercial vehicle capabilities of Isuzu and Hino to accelerate EV adoption in the commercial applications and develop a commercial vehicle focused connected platform. The scope includes all commercial vehicles ranging from mini-CVs to heavy trucks. Further, Suzuki and Daihatsu are among the top Kei Cars manufacturers in Japan which holds a major share in new sales as well as vehicle parc. Electrification of these low-cost and high-sales microcars makes complete strategic sense and will result in faster adoption of BEVs. Further, the collective efforts around electric and connected tech for commercial vehicles will ensure all-inclusive electrification in the automotive industry and support Japanese OEMs to meet government carbon neutrality goals and create desired societal impact.