National Environmental Policy and the Global Success of Next-Generation Automobiles


    In this article, we identify the most crucial factors for the potential world market success of different alternative car designs: fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and conventional fuel efficient vehicles (FEVs). We first assess which vehicle concept is favoured under which regulation regime. We suggest that the global success of a certain technology critically depends on the ability of a regional lead mar-ket to leverage and transfer its local success, through large cost reductions or the international diffusion of a pioneering environmental regulation for instance.
    Although FCVs are still in the demonstration phase, the US has set the stage for a direct switch to FCVs. The Japanese regulatory regime favours HEVs as the next-generation engine design, while the development of the traditional combustion engine towards enhanced fuel efficiency is most likely in Europe. Due to the high cost of FCVs and the lack of strict regula-tion supporting this radical innovation, incremental innovations such as new versions of con-ventional combustion engines and hybrid cars have the best chances of becoming globally successful.

Key words: Lead market, environmental technologies, zero emission vehicles, fuel efficient cars

JEL categories: Q55, Q58, O33, Q42

Marian BEISE
Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration
Kobe University
Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe
657-8501 Japan
Phone: (81) 78 803 7036
Fax: (81) 78 803 7059

Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW)