In 2010, Japanese carmaker Nissan introduced the Leaf, the world’s first mass-produced fully electric car.
A decade later, that nation’s auto industry has decided to step back – sticking with hybrid gas-and-battery vehicles, a market it dominates, and leaving the work of breaking ground in the nascent all-electric market to others.
The market for hybrids will continue to grow until 2027, according to an analysis by data firm IDTechEx, despite moves by California and the U.K. to ban them in their push to end the fossil fuel era.
In contrast, fully electric vehicles (EVs) now make up only about 3 percent of global car sales, with buyers having to deal with a limited range between charges, a continuing lack of public charging stations, and long wait times while cars charge.
In 2020, Japanese EVs made up only about 5 percent of that 3 percent of global EV sales, and 65 percent of that 3-percent sliver was Leafs.
Although Toyota is in partnerships with Mazda, Subaru, and Suzuki to develop EVs, company president Akio Toyoda derided the idea that Toyota would abandon hybrids.
He accused the news media of glorifying EVs and pointed out that all-battery vehicles are no more environmentally clean than the power sources used to charge them or the factories that make them, in comments quoted by The New York Times.
Instead of plowing resources into an increasingly crowded EV market, Japan’s government and car companies have decided to capitalize on their expertise in hybrid technology, wringing all the market share and profit they can from it, while others soften the market for EVs.
Japanese regulators have said they will soon release guidance on the future of fossil fuel vehicles in the country.
TREND FORECAST: As we have long been reporting, there will be no major EV breakthrough unless there is a new type of battery than the current ones being used. And again, while EVs continue to make the news as the autos of the 21st century, just 3 percent of car sales in 2020 were electric vehicles.