Japan plans average mileage rules; joining U.S., Europe

Tokyo Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:57am EDT

Tokyo (Reuters) - Japan is looking to join the United States and Europe in adopting standards that set fuel economy targets averaged across a car maker's entire fleet, according to a government proposal announced on Friday.

The draft guideline calls for an improvement of 24.1 percent in the average mileage of passenger cars in Japan to 20.3 km/liter in 2020, against 16.3 km/l measured in 2009, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

By adopting the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) methodology, automakers would be awarded for mounting fuel-saving technology such as hybrid systems on a large volume of cars, and not be penalized for failing to meet standards in other categories, divided into 15 weight classes. That would in turn help car makers concentrate their R&D resources rather than spreading them thin, a ministry official said.

If finalized, the new guidelines could take effect as early as next spring, the government said.

Electric cars and plug-in hybrids would be excluded from the fuel economy targets because they make up just 0.1 percent of current sales in Japan, the official said.

Many car models already meet the ministry's 2020 standards.

The mileage of Honda Motor Co's Fit, Nissan Motor Co's March and Mazda Motor Corp's Demio in the popular subcompact category all exceed the 2020 target of 23.4 km/l in that weight class.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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