The Tesla Model S has become something of a worldwide phenomenon, and while America still makes up a bulk of Tesla sales, China, Europe, and Australia are adding to those numbers. If you’re rich enough, you can even get a Model S in Russia. One country missing from that list? Japan, a market whose companies have developed some of the best-known and best-selling EVs and hybrids in the world, but seems ready to shift towards hydrogen instead.
Yesterday, Musk handed over the keys to the first Tesla Model S owners in Japan, bringing his distinct brand to a country seemingly ready to embrace hydrogen instead.
Former (and possibly future) Tesla partner Toyota is leading the charge with the hydrogen-powered Mirai, which could get $20,000 per vehicle or more in incentives from the Japanese government. The island nation has also committed to expanding its hydrogen fueling infrastructure, though it’s also installing a larger EV charging network as other Japanese companies still believe in an all-electric future.
Interestingly enough, Tesla already had a Tokyo-area gallery, two service centers, and at least four Superchargers installed in Japan. Until recently though, it had been unable to fulfill orders for Japanese customers due to limited production capacity. With Teslas now finding their way into China, it appears that the California-based automaker now has the capacity to start sending cars into smaller markets.
Japan’s overall car market is basically stagnant, and it’s unlikely to become a major market for Elon Musk’s automaker, but with many Japanese companies commiting to hydrogen, it’d be a fine sticking point of the Model S were to outsell the Toyota Mirai, despite the inherent incentive disadvantage.
The hydrogen vs. electric car war has come home to Japan; which one will succeed?