Devastation caused by earthquake in Ofunato, Japan

Devastation, death, tragedy and hope. These are some of the results of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan earlier this year, and one such hope is to make cleaner, better vehicles. The Japanese news outlet Nikkei is reporting that automakers are ready to dish out the big bucks in research and development following Japan's post-Fukushima electrical crisis, which continues to cripple parts of the island nation.

The Nikkei says spending in Japan is set to rise at a rapid pace in fiscal 2011 and that after-effects of the quake in Japan are responsible for the spree. According to the report, approximately three out of ten Japanese companies, including automakers Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi, are boosting their research and development budgets by double digits.

For the most part, Japanese automakers will direct cash to technologies that either conserve energy or that could potentially lead to the discovery of cutting-edge sources of energy. Furthermore, the report claims that more than 60 percent of Japanese companies say the quake affected research and development activities. Isn't it a tragedy that it typically takes a catastrophe to spark innovation?