Competing companies Nissan and Toyota continue to challenge each other towards the goal of a fully connective car, autonomous driving and especially with electric cars.
Within the span of a month, Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Corp. have doubled down on starkly divergent strategies for hybrid and electric vehicles.
While other global automakers hedge their bets on alternative powertrain technologies, Nissan and Toyota are placing risky wagers that each knows exactly which powertrain will dominate among next-generation green vehicles.
Nissan aims to be the global leader in EVs. Toyota wants to expand its lead as the world’s top maker of gasoline-electric hybrids.
On June 9, Nissan released the second of four promised EVs, its e-NV200 battery-powered van.
Just weeks earlier, Toyota pulled the plug on its own EV program by ending a two-year deal to build electric Toyota RAV4 crossovers with Tesla Motors Inc. When the last RAV-4 rolls off the line later this year, the world’s largest automaker will no longer be producing electric cars.
No other major automakers are as zealous about their chosen path.
“When it comes to zero emissions, we’re absolutely religious,” Andy Palmer, Nissan’s chief planning officer, said at the launch of the e-NV200, Nissan’s second EV after the Leaf. “We’ll be the absolute, No. 1 leader in zero emissions. No doubt. That’s our positioning.”
Publicly, both companies say they see a need for a range of alternative powertrains to meet different driving conditions. But their product plans clearly show where each is plowing the big bucks: Nissan into EVs, while Toyota shuns them for hybrids.
Each gambit is risky. EVs are still hobbled by high costs and range limitations. Hybrids, also still pricey, face tougher competition from improved internal-combustion engines.