Sales of hydrogen-powered cars in Japan have plummeted over the past two years, while the popularity of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) has grown significantly over the same period.

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In 2021, 2,464 fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) were sold in the country, but this fell by 65% to 848 in 2022, before halving again in 2023 to just 422 sales, according to the latest statistics from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association (JADA).

This represents a collapse of 82.87% between 2021 and 2023.

Almost all of the hydrogen cars sold were made by Toyota (mainly the Mirai model with perhaps a few units of the Crown FCEV, which went on sale in Japan in November 2023), with just 14 units of the now defunct Honda Clarity sold in 2021 and early 2022, as well as 31 “imported” vehicles — probably the Hyundai Nexo from South Korea, the only other commercially available fuel-cell car.

Over the same period, sales of battery-electric cars more than doubled — from 20,008 in 2021 to 31,592 in 2022, and to 43,991 in 2023.

However, these sales of zero-emission vehicles represent a sliver of overall sales in Japan, with more than 7.2 million gasoline, diesel and hybrid cars sold during 2021-23.

Japan’s Basic Hydrogen Strategy, which was updated in June last year, includes a target of 800,000 fuel-cell passenger vehicles on its roads by 2030 — yet only about 8,000 hydrogen cars have been sold in the country to date.

JADA does not provide figures for the number of non-car FCEVs sold in Japan.

Sales of FCEVs in South Korea and Germany also fell by more than half last year, accordingly to recently released data.

Japan, South Korea and Germany represent three of the five biggest FCEV markets in the world. The other two, China and the US, were growing on a year-by-year basis, according to data from South Korean consultancy SNE Research back in October.