Hybrid vehicle laggard Nissan hopes to catch up with its Japanese rivals after launching the company’s own green car technology next year, an executive said on Tuesday.
Nissan Motor Co, Japan’s No. 3 auto maker, has fallen behind its bigger rivals — Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co — in the increasingly competitive market for gas-electric hybrid vehicles. Toyota produces Prius, the world’s top-selling hybrid, whose latest or third-generation model, went on sale Monday, offering better mileage and more size. It is competing against Honda’s smaller but cheaper Insight hybrid, which is also proving popular.
Nissan, allied with France’s Renault SA, still does not have models on sale with its own hybrid system, although it sells hybrid Altima in the US with Toyota’s hybrid system. It is promising a model using its own hybrid technology for the US and Japanese markets next year.
Chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga acknowledged he is often asked how Nissan hopes to compete in hybrids. “It is not that we are not doing hybrids,” he said. Hybrids and zero-emission vehicles, including electric cars and fuel-cell vehicles, are important but the other measures are also vital, he added.
Shiga was speaking after showing a new van, which has a gasoline engine but meets Japanese government standards for tax reductions for green vehicles. The NV200 Vanette goes on sale this month in Japan, is planned for Europe later this year and next year for China.