Japanese Government Eco Car Incentive Scheme Not “Eco” At All?

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, February 5th, 2011

This study seems to indicate that there is more benefit to leaving cars on the road properly maintained over replacing them with new hybrids. The reasoning being that the environmental cost of producing these new cars far outweighs the fuel savings generated by the hybrids.

Since Japan’s passenger cars are particularly well maintained as a result of the shaken (roadworthiness testing program) it is ironic that the Japanese government spent most of last year (until October) encouraging sales of hybrids with its “Eco Car” incentive program. This took a lot of older cars off the roads and replaced them with Priuses and other hybrid vehicles. What this study shows is that actually from an environmental point of view, the gains in fuel savings from these new cars was actually more than offset by the damage caused in the production process.

I have always suspected that the real reasoning behind this incentive program was to help Japan’s domestic auto makers, and this goes to confirm that. Clearly handing out cash to your car makers can be a little problematic when the WTO is looking over your shoulder, but who can argue with a program to help the environment that just happens to benefit hybrid makers Toyota and Honda more than anyone else?

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