Jiji Press — The industry ministry on Wednesday held the first meeting of a panel to discuss measures to strengthen Japan’s competitiveness in the field of automobiles, including on how to encourage wider use of next-generation models, such as electric vehicles.
The move came as international competition has intensified for the development of automotive technologies, including electric vehicles and autonomous driving.
Other agenda items will include how to stimulate innovations in the fields of batteries and information technology.
“The auto industry is entering an era of a significant change that happens only once in 100 years,” industry minister Hiroshige Seko said at the outset of the meeting.
Taking the major change as a good opportunity, the public and private sectors need to work together to devise measures to create innovations, Seko added.
The panel will comprise 15 members, including Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda and top officials from Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp., as well as experts of battery technology, a key for electric vehicle development.
The panel plans to compile opinions by summer. The government will take them into consideration when drawing up related policies.
Many countries are promoting electric and other eco-friendly vehicles.
The panel members will discuss what policy action the government should take to achieve its goal of increasing the proportion of next-generation models, including electric and hybrid ones, in new passenger car sales in Japan to 50-70 percent by 2030.
As well as the new technologies, automakers are facing the need to cooperate with electronics and IT companies in response to the growth of new auto-related services, including sharing of vehicles.
It is difficult for automakers alone to provide such new services, analysts said.