It's so easy to make fun of the Department of Motor Vehicles in the United States. Whenever folks return from renewing a license or getting new plates, everybody has a joke making fun of the long lines, prolonged waits or bored employees. But it looks like we in the US have it easy compared to the Japanese. Journalist Jacob M. Schlesinger recently chronicled the bureaucratic hell involved for an American to get a driver's license there on The Wall Street Journal Japan Realtime blog.
Japan's prime minister has a lead foot, apparently. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently had a photo op with Toyota's first production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, even getting behind the wheel for a spin (no chauffeur for him, so much respect on our part). His primary impression was that the car had great pickup, before settling on the more politically correct view of noting the vehicle's lack of emissions.
High Demand From Europe, Japan Mean No US Version For Now
It can be difficult to see from the US, where the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is not yet available, but the all-wheel drive SUV is a big hit in Europe and Japan. In fact, we learned at the Plug In 2014 Conference in San Jose, CA this week that Mitsubishi has sold over 33,000 copies of the PHEV around the world.
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.
Japan is surging ahead with plans to seriously increase its drone fleet in the face of its ongoing territorial disputes with China and a typically difficult North Korea. The country, which until recently had an exceptionally restrictive section of its constitution that limited any belligerence, will increase its investment in UAVs by 300 percent.
Tesla Roadster? What Tesla Roadster? Japanese automaker GLM and Japan racing-car maker Tommykaira are putting the finishing touches on one very cool electric roadster. No word on when it will reach the US but it looks worth waiting for.
The Subaru WRX range is growing just a little bit larger, at least in Japan, with the automaker's teasing announcement of a new version called the S4. Unfortunately, the company is keeping details about its latest all-wheel drive sport sedan a closely guarded secret for the moment.
Nissan's Nismo performance division has been getting more chances to shine recently with tuned models like the Juke Nismo RS and GT-R Nismo. But its latest creation moves closer to the bottom of the Japanese brand's lineup to make a hot hatch out of the (Versa) Note.
That tailwind Toyota may be feeling in Japan won't be from a stiff breeze off the northern Pacific Ocean. The Japanese automaker is getting ready to start selling its first production hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle in its native country next year. And the government is ponying up real big in incentives, Reuters says.
We've seen several heartwarming videos of kids bonding over cars with their parents, whether racing together or giving them as gifts. The story of Leh Keen and his father McGrath, though, is somewhat different. Not many dads are looking for a vehicle quite this mental.
Street racing is obviously illegal and incredibly dangerous, but that has never stopped people from doing it. While we don't hear nearly as much about the scourge of Japanese tuner cars as when The Fast and the Furious first hit theaters over a decade ago, illegal street racing is still bubbling under the surface all over the island nation. An excellent new documentary short from Bowls Films takes a look at the Kanjozoku from Osaka, Japan; a group that claims to be partially responsible for the
In the wake of the 2011 tsunami that caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, there was a fear that radioactive cars and trucks could be bound for export. Within days of the tragedy, Nissan was already testing its vehicles' radiation levels (pictured above), and the rest of the Japanese auto industry followed soon after. However, three years after the natural disaster, it appears that some used models are still making it out and winding up on the roads in Central
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is on track to be the highest-paid executive in Japan for the fourth time in five years. Ghosn's salary and bonuses last year rang the register to the tune of $9.8 million (995 million yen), and when stock dividends are added to the equation, the exec's total pay crested a billion yen. That represents a 0.7-percent increase over his pay from the previous year. Ghosn earned an additional $3.1 million as CEO of Renault.
There's a logical progression of technology in the auto industry. We've seen it with things like carbon-ceramic brakes, which use to be the sole domain of six-figure sports cars, where they often cost as much as an entry level Toyota Corolla. Now, you can get them on a BMW M3 (they're still pricey, at $8,150). Who knows, maybe in the next four a five years, they'll be available on something like a muscle car or hot hatchback. Aluminum has had a similar progression, although it's further along, m
We'll admit we don't understand all of this strange little ad for the Toyota Prius Plug In (our Japanese skills are not what they once were) but that just makes it all the more fascinating. The takeaway point is that a world full of PHEV Priuses will be astonishingly colorful at time and exciting, with food being delivered by a neck plug. Or something like that.
Japanese TV show fights crime with electric vehicle power
The automobile-as-crime-fighting-teammate concept dates back at least to the 1960s Batman television series, gained further currency during the 1980s with Knight Rider and was referenced in the recent Kia ads featuring Los Angeles Clippers basketball star Blake Griffin and Jack McBrayer of 30 Rock fame.
Each region around the world has its stereotypical vehicle. The US has the pickup and Europe the five-door hatchback; but in Japan, the kei car reigns supreme. These tiny cars are limited to just 660cc of displacement but they've also come with lower taxes to make them more affordable. To make of the most of their small size, they've often had quite boxy styling like the Honda N-One shown above, and because they're Japanese, they've often had quirky names like the Nissan Dayz Roox. However, if t
The Japanese government is really paving the way for hydrogen fuel cell technology on its roads. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is changing regulations on fuel tanks to make hydrogen cars more appealing to drivers, which should help put the country ahead of others in the race to develop a viable H2 fleet.
The term "iconic" gets thrown around a lot, but if there was ever a design worthy of the honorific, surely it's the Honda Super Cub. That's not just our opinion, though: it's the official word from the Japanese Patent Office, which has recognized the classic scooter's shape with a three-dimensional trademark.
Nippon Charge Service will improve EV infrastructure
Cynics may say that gathering $800,000 (total) from four of Japan's largest automakers is merely a rounding error. Still, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi, along with the Development Bank of Japan, are putting those funds to good use. So, that's something.