Japan: Light-duty: Fuel Economy

Overview

Established in 1999, the Top Runner program sets fuel economy standards indexed to manufacturer average curb weight. The 2020 targets represent a 19.7% reduction in fuel consumption compared to 2009. The program includes tax breaks for early compliance that have resulted in manufacturers meeting previous fuel economy targets well ahead of schedule.

Standard type
Fuel efficiency standards

Current Standard
New standards in 2015 and 2020

Applicability
New type-approved passenger cars, light trucks, and light commercial vehicles GVW ≤ 2.5 t; light vehicles with GVW up to 3.5 t used to transport cargo

History

Japan has historically had the lightest, most fuel efficient vehicle fleet in the world; in 2008 the average level of passenger vehicle CO2emissions was 141 g CO2/km, 8 percent lower than the European Union.1 However, Japan’s road transportation sector in 2010 still accounted for 18 percent of the country’s total CO2 emissions, which was the fifth highest in the world.2 Historically, Japan’s fuel economy standards have been rigorous in comparison to other countries, but the targets for 2020 are less aggressive than those of the United States and the EU.

The Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy (Energy Conservation Law) set the foundation for Japan’s fuel economy regulations. Passed in 1979 and subsequently revised, the law authorized the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to establish fuel economy standards for gasoline and diesel passenger vehicles. The first fuel economy for gasoline PV were set in 1979 and applied to MY1985 vehicles.3 Later on, targets were set in 1993 and applied to model year 2000 vehicles.4

In 1999, revisions to Section 6 of the law established the Top Runner Program, an energy efficiency system applicable to automobiles and certain types of machinery, under the authority of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).[The Japanese government was restructured in 2001, so fuel economy regulations fell under the authority of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) after 2001. Previously, fuel economy was regulated by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).]The Top Runner Program for passenger vehicles (classified as cars with a riding capacity of 10 people or less) identifies the most fuel-efficient automobile in each weight class and designates it the “top runner.” Fuel consumption targets are then set at the level of the top runner. All other vehicles are required to exceed the new target values for their weight class within three to ten years.5 The 1999 Top Runner Program established a fleet average target of approximately 15.1 km/L for 2010, and in 2007 a target of 16.8 km/L was set for 2015. Recently, the Japanese government issued 2020 standards that would set the fuel economy target at 20.3 km/L.6

Important amendments to the Energy Conservation Law include:

  • 1999—Adoption of 2010 fuel efficiency targets for gasoline passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (effective 2005 for diesel vehicles).
  • 2003—Fuel efficiency standards for LPG cars (2010 targets).
  • 2006—New fuel efficiency standards for heavy vehicles above 3.5 t (2015 targets).
  • 2007—Adoption of 2015 fuel efficiency targets for light vehicles, including revisions to passenger car and light commercial vehicles standards, and new standards for small buses.
  • 2011—Set 2020 standards

The effectiveness of the standards is enhanced by financial incentives—such as progressive taxes levied on the vehicle weight and engine displacement—that promote the purchase of lighter vehicles. Vehicles that exceed the fuel economy standards and emission standards may be also eligible for additional reductions in vehicle tax. A sticker system is in place that allows customers to identify vehicles that exceed standards.

Traditionally, Japan’s fuel economy standards have been at levels that manufacturers can meet well before formally required to do so. For example, on average Japan’s new vehicle fleet complied with 2010 fleetwide fuel economy targets in 2005, with significant numbers of models complying with their individual weight bin targets prior to that time. Average new vehicle fuel economy in 2010 was approximately equivalent to the 2015 requirements (Japanese only). The same phenomenon is expected for the 2020 targets as well. Early compliance of this sort is rewarded through tax breaks for vehicles exceeding their targets ahead of schedule.

Technical Standards

The fuel efficiency targets, expressed in kilometers per liter of fuel (km/L), are based on the curb weight. Manufactures must ensure that in each financial year the average fuel economy of their vehicles in each weight category meets the standard. Flexibilities exist that allow manufacturers to accumulate credits in one weight category for use in another. While the fuel economy targets are mandatory, the penalties for missing the targets are minimal.

2010 Targets

Fuel economy targets apply to new type-approved passenger cars and light trucks with curb weight ≤ 2.5 t. Standards for gasoline and LPG vehicles are effective from 2010, while the standards for diesel vehicles are applicable from 2005. According to government estimates, when the targets are met the average fuel economy for the entire vehicle fleet would reach:

  • Passenger cars: 15.1 km/L (153.8 g CO2/km), a 22.8% increase over 1995 performance of 12.3 km/L (188.8 g CO2/km),
  • Light trucks (2.5 t): 16.3 km/L (124.4 g CO2/km), a 13.2% increase over 1995 performance of 14.4 km/L (161.2 g CO2/km).

Fuel consumption is measured over the hot start 10-15 mode cycle.

The standards for gasoline, diesel and LPG passenger cars (≤ 10 passengers) are shown below. Standards apply to vehicles after FY2010. For additional information, see the full text of the Top Runner Program.

2010 Fuel Efficiency Targets for Passenger Cars
Curb Weight, kg Fuel Economy Target, km/L
Gasoline Diesel* LPG
< 703 21.2 18.9 15.9
703-827 18.8 14.1
828-1015 17.9 13.5
1016-1265 16.0 16.2 12.0
1266-1515 13.0 13.2 9.8
1516-1765 10.5 11.9 7.9
1766-2015 8.9 10.8 6.7
2016-2265 7.8 9.8 5.9
> 2265 6.4 8.7 4.8
* Diesel vehicle targets effective from 2005

Light Commercial Vehicles

The standards for light vehicles (GVW ≤ 2.5 t) used to transport cargo are listed below for gasoline and diesel vehicles, respectively. The standards depend on the type of transmission (MT – manual; AT – automatic) and vehicle structure. The vehicle structures refer to cab-behind-engine (bonnet type) trucks and vans for Structure A, and cab-over-engine for Structure B.

2010 Fuel Efficiency Targets for Gasoline Light Commercial Vehicles
Type Transmission GVW, kg Structure FE Target, km/L
Mini Cargo Vehicles MT < 703 A 20.2
B 17.0
703-828 A 18.0
B 16.7
> 828 15.5
AT < 703 A 18.9
B 16.2
703-827 A 16.5
B 15.5
> 828 14.9
Small Cargo Vehicles
GVW ≤ 1.7 t
MT < 1016 17.8
≥ 1016 15.7
AT < 1016 14.9
≥ 1016 13.8
Medium Cargo Vehicles
1.7 t < GVW ≤ 2.5 t
MT < 1266 A 14.5
B 12.3
1266-1515 10.7
≥ 1516 9.3
AT < 1266 A 12.5
B 11.2
≥ 1266 10.3
2010 Fuel Efficiency Targets for Diesel Light Commercial Vehicles
Type Transmission GVW, kg Structure FE Target, km/L
Small Cargo Vehicles
GVW ≤ 1.7 t
MT 17.7
AT 15.1
Medium Cargo Vehicles
1.7 t < GVW ≤ 2.5 t
MT < 1266 A 17.4
B 14.6
1266-1515 14.1
≥ 1516 12.5
AT < 1266 A 14.5
B 12.6
1266-1515 12.3
1516-1765 10.8
≥ 1766 10.3

2015 Targets

The 2015 fuel efficiency regulation introduces more GVW categories and applies to more vehicle types. New standards are introduced for small buses, and the applicability of standards for light trucks (cargo vehicles) is extended up to GVW ≤ 3.5 t. Therefore, the 2015 targets apply to most type-approved vehicles below 3.5 t (with the exception of LPG vehicles other than passenger cars, and all vehicles fueled by other fuels than gasoline, diesel, or LPG). When the 2015 targets are met, the fleet average fuel economy is estimated to be:

  • Passenger cars: 16.8 km/L, a 23.5% increase over 2004 performance of 13.6 km/L
  • Light trucks (3.5 t): 15.2 km/L, a 12.6% increase over 2004 performance of 13.5 km/L
  • Small busses: 8.9 km/L, a 7.2% increase over 2004 performance of 8.3 km/L

The fuel economy standards for passenger cars (≤ 10 passengers) are listed below. The same standards apply to gasoline and diesel cars, but a heating value correction applies for diesels. For additional detail, see the full text of 2015 standards, passed in 2007.

2015 Fuel Efficiency Targets for Passenger Cars
Category Curb Weight, kg FE Target, km/L
1 ≤ 600 22.5
2 601-740 21.8
3 741-855 21.0
4 865-970 20.8
5 971-1080 20.5
6 1081-1195 18.7
7 1196-1310 17.2
8 1311-1420 15.8
9 1421-1530 14.4
10 1531-1650 13.2
11 1651-1760 12.2
12 1761-1870 11.1
13 1871-1990 10.2
14 1991-2100 9.4
15 2101-2270 8.7
16 ≥ 2271 7.4

Light Commercial Vehicles

Fuel economy targets for light vehicles with GVW up to 3.5 t used to transport cargo are summarized in the following tables. The standards depend on the type of transmission (MT – manual; AT – automatic) and vehicle structure. The vehicle structures refer to cab-behind-engine (bonnet type) vans for Structure A, cab-over-engine vans for Structure B1, and cab-over-engine trucks for Structure B2. Structure B refers to vehicles of Structure B1 and B2 combined.

2015 Fuel Efficiency Targets for Mini Cargo Vehicles
Category Structure Transmission Curb Weight, kg FE Target, km/L
1 A MT ≤ 740 23.2
2 ≥ 741 20.3
3 AT ≤ 740 20.9
4 741-855 19.6
5 ≥ 856 20.5
6 B MT ≤ 740 18.2
7 741-855 18.0
8 856-970 17.2
9 ≥ 971 16.4
10 AT ≤ 740 16.4
11 741-855 16.0
12 856-970 15.4
13 ≥ 971 14.7
2015 Fuel Efficiency Targets for Light Cargo Vehicles, GVW ≤ 1.7 t
Category Transmission Curb Weight, kg FE Target, km/L
1 MT ≤ 1080 18.5
2 ≥ 1081 17.1
3 AT ≤ 1080 17.4
4 1081-1195 15.8
5 ≥ 1196 14.7
2015 Fuel Efficiency Targets for Gasoline Medium Cargo Vehicles
(1.7 t < GVW ≤ 3.5 t)
Category Structure Transmission Curb Weight, kg FE Target, km/L
1 A MT 14.2
2 AT ≤ 1310 13.3
3 ≥ 1311 12.7
4 B1 MT ≤ 1310 11.9
5 1311-1420 10.6
6 1421-1530 10.3
7 1531-1650 10.0
8 1651-1760 9.8
9 ≥ 1761 9.7
10 AT ≤ 1310 10.9
11 1311-1420 9.8
12 1421-1530 9.6
13 1531-1650 9.4
14 1651-1760 9.1
15 1761-1870 8.8
16 ≥ 1871 8.5
17 B2 MT ≤ 1310 11.2
18 1311-1420 10.2
19 1421-1530 9.9
20 1531-1650 9.7
21 1651-1760 9.3
22 ≥ 1761 8.9
23 AT ≤ 1310 10.5
24 1311-1420 9.7
25 1421-1530 8.9
26 1531-1650 8.6
27 ≥ 1651 7.9
2015 Fuel Efficiency Targets for Diesel Medium Cargo Vehicles
(1.7 t < GVW ≤ 3.5 t)
Category Structure Transmission Curb Weight, kg FE Target, km/L
28 A & B1 MT ≤ 1420 14.5
29 1421-1530 14.1
30 1531-1650 13.8
31 1651-1760 13.6
32 1761-1870 13.3
33 1871-1990 12.8
34 1991-2100 12.3
35 ≥ 2101 11.7
36 AT ≤ 1420 13.1
37 1421-1530 12.8
38 1531-1650 11.5
39 1651-1760 11.3
40 1761-1870 11.0
41 1871-1990 10.8
42 1991-2100 10.3
43 ≥ 2101 9.4
44 B2 MT ≤ 1420 14.3
45 1421-1530 12.9
46 1531-1650 12.6
47 1651-1760 12.4
48 1761-1870 12.0
49 1871-1990 11.3
50 1991-2100 11.2
51 ≥ 2101 11.1
52 AT ≤ 1420 12.5
53 1421-1530 11.8
54 1531-1650 10.9
55 1651-1760 10.6
56 1761-1870 9.7
57 1871-1990 9.5
58 1991-2100 9.0
59 ≥ 2101 8.8

Testing

The 2015 fuel consumption testing is performed over the JC08 cycle, which fully replaced the 10-15 mode test in 2011. A weighted harmonic average (i.e., the reciprocal of the weighted average of reciprocals of the measured data) is calculated from the cold start (weight = 0.25) and hot start (0.75) runs. The higher average speed, quicker acceleration, and the cold start requirements of the JC08 test increase the stringency of the new fuel economy targets by about 9%. The fleet average passenger car fuel economy for MY 2004 vehicles is 15.0 km/L when measured over the 10-15 test, compared to 13.6 km/L over the JC08 test.

For passenger vehicles, mini cargo vehicles, and light cargo vehicles, gasoline and diesel vehicles are placed in the same category with equal target standards. In these cases, a weighted harmonic average should be obtained using fuel efficiency values for gasoline vehicles and gasoline-heating-value-equivalent fuel efficiency values for diesel vehicles (fuel efficiency of diesel vehicles divided by 1.10).

2020 Targets

The table below lists the fuel efficiency targets by category for 2020. When the 2020 targets are met, the fleet average fuel economy is estimated to be 20.3 km/L for passenger cars, a 24.1% increase over the actual 2009 levels of 16.3 km/L and 19.6% increase over MY2015 performance of 17.0 km/L. For additional information, see the full text of 2020 Top Runner program.

Target fuel efficiency values for each weight category
Equivalent inertia weight (kg) Curb weight (kg) Target fuel efficiency value (km/L)
800 740 or below 24.6
910 741 to 855 24.5
1,020 856 to 970 23.7
1,130 971 to 1,080 23.4
1,250 1,081 to 1,195 21.8
1,360 1,196 to 1,310 20.3
1,470 1,311 to 1,420 19
1,590 1,421 to 1,530 17.6
1,700 1,531 to 1,650 16.5
1,810 1,651 to 1,760 15.4
1,930 1,761 to 1,870 14.4
2,040 1,871 to 1,990 13.5
2,150 1,991 to 2,100 12.7
2,270 2,101 to 2,270 11.9
2,500 2,271 or above 10.6

Show 6 footnotes

  1. ICCT April 2011 update.
  2. Tom Boden and T.J. Blasing. (2010). Record High 2010 Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Fossil-Fuel Combustion and Cement Manufacture. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center.
  3. MLIT, automobile fuel efficiency page http://www.mlit.go.jp/jidosha/jidosha_fr10_000005.html
  4. Akira Ishiyama. Regulatory Framework for Energy Conservation Legislation in Japan. UNESCAP.
  5. Top Runner Program, (March 2010).
  6. Final report on new passenger vehicle fuel efficiency standards (Top Runner Standards). (October 2011); ICCT comments on Japan’s 2020 fuel consumption standards. (September 2011)

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