In Japan, Toyota is taking an unconventional approach to reducing vehicle emissions.
Rather than focusing on plug-in electric vehicles, the automaker is manufacturing a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car that the company is calling the Mirai, according to NPR — and with $20,000 worth of government subsidies, it costs just $50,000. That's a little more expensive than a conventional car, but far less than hydrogen fuel cells used to cost.
Right now, Toyota builds just 10 of the zero-emission vehicles per day. But they could be a good fit for Japan, where densely-populated cities leave people without the space to plug in electric cars.
"There's just no behavior change as long as you have [hydrogen] infrastructure in place," Matthew Klippenstein, an author at Fuel Cell Industry Review, told NPR. "We go to the same gas station and fuel up in the same few minutes and just keep on tootling on."
For hydrogen — and electric — cars to actually cut down on carbon emissions, the electricity used to develop, manufacture, and charge fuel cells also has to come from a source of clean energy. But should the technology grow to the point that hydrogen cells can be made in bulk for cheap, it could position Japan to stay ahead of increasingly strict emissions regulations.
"They pretty much realize that the exhaust regulations will get tougher and tougher," former auto industry advertising executive Bertel Schmitt told NPR. "What is being enacted right now, in 2020 in Europe, is nothing compared to what will come five years later, 10 years later."
READ MORE: Japan Is Betting Big On The Future Of Hydrogen Cars [NPR]
More on hydrogen fuel: New Technique Turns Seawater Into Hydrogen Fuel
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