From January to June 2014, close to 540,000 hybrid vehicles were sold in Japan, a 35% increase from this same period in the previous year. In 2015, more hybrid models have been introduced to the Japanese market and the popularity continues to grow.
It’s been the same ever since the introduction of the original Toyota Prius, as well as the Honda Insight. So, why are Hybrid cars extremely popular in Japan?
The appeal and popularity behind these motor-assisted vehicles are simple, they offer better fuel economy compared to conventional gasoline engines. Also when it comes to fuel consumption, Japanese drivers go up in arms about which cars get better fuel economy. Perhaps it may be due to the high price of gas, or the high demand for efficiency from Japanese drivers, but automakers are in constant competition with each other to offer better fuel consumption ratings.
Hybrid engines are based on a conventional gasoline engine, with an electric motor connected to it, to assist its power output. The advantage of this system is that, as you accelerate from a standstill position, only the electric motor will actuate and help propel the vehicle forward. At higher speeds, the gasoline engine will kick in, but the electric motor will continue to aid power to the engine. In terms of efficiency, the hybrid system sips significantly less petrol by relying on an electric motor. In terms of ride quality, the acceleration is smooth because the electric motor offers a completely linear torque curve, unlike gasoline engines which can only offer maximum torque at certain parts of the rev range.
The hybrid system is most efficient from low to mid speeds due the qualities of the electric assist. Where roads are narrow and people do not tend to drive long distances very often, hybrids have a great advantage. In Japan, this is certainly the case and car buyers are more than happy to pay the premium for a hybrid car. If all you’re likely to be doing is traveling to the local grocery store for some shopping, a hybrid will mostly rely on its electric motor for propulsion, using little gasoline in the process. Most Japanese drivers who don’t travel long distances find it highly efficient and easy on their bank account. Also, when the engine isn’t running, it is quiet too, so you are able to enjoy listening to the natural sounds of the environment around you, as you’re driving along.