It's official

Japan makes it mandatory for government agencies to go for ecofriendly vehicles

Published: Saturday 30 June 2001

japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi has instructed all ministries and agencies in the country to purchase only environmentally friendly vehicles. The government has begun preparations to phase in hybrid and electric, fuel cell and compressed natural gas ( cng) vehicles. The prime minister's announcement goes beyond the action plan developed by the Japanese cabinet in June 1995 for combating vehicular pollution. Under this plan, it was decided to replace 10 per cent of government vehicles with low emission vehicles ( lev s) by the year 2000.

Japan has a vehicular population of over 67 million. In 1997, more than 1,300 vehicles were running on cng. The country now has an ambitious plan to increase cng cars to one million by 2010.

Japan's electric vehicle programme also goes back a long way. After the Second World War, owing to an acute shortage of fossil fuels and surplus electricity caused by the closure of the war industry, the number of electric vehicles increased rapidly. In 1949, there were 3,300 electric vehicles on Japan's roads with an annual production of 1,614 vehicles.
The electric vehicles, however, were soon replaced with vehicles using internal combustion engines with higher performance and lower costs. Electric vehicle once again came into limelight in the 1960s, when pollution caused by petrol and diesel vehicles became a serious health concern. From 1971, the government promoted the use of electric vehicles with a five-year project for their research and development.

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