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OK, now we're really confused. In the US, Toyota has been telling anyone who cares to listen that the future of advanced-powertrain technology is hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, not electric ones. In China, a Toyota joint venture is looking at EVs. Over in Japan? They've just decided to pony up a little more for testing electric-vehicle technology. Maybe something's lost in translation.

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With the two main Japanese automakers, Toyota and Honda, leading the charge for hydrogen vehicles (along with Korea's Hyundai), we shouldn't be too surprised that the Japanese government is supporting the technology big time. We knew the national government is ready to kick in the equivalent of $20,000 for a new FCV, but now we learn that at least one prefectural government is ready to chip in another substantial sum: $10,000.

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Toyota is looking to more than double the size of the charging-station program it launched in Japan's Aichi Prefecture last year. And, at about a buck a charge, plug-in vehicle owners will likely to be more than happy to be the guinea pigs.

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