Honda EV-N Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Toyota's dominance in the blossoming hybrid market is unmatched, but as several other automakers are now increasingly focused on developing electric vehicles (EVs), can the company that defined the hybrid segment continue to march forward with its plans to release additional hybrid models? The answer really depends on who you ask, but a recent editorial published in the Japanese Nikkei newspaper suggests that both Toyota and Honda must shift towards EVs, or risk having the nation of Japan fall behind the competition. The Nikkei writes:

...both Toyota and Honda had until recently thought that the era of hybrids would continue for a while before electric vehicles began to gain popularity. But the automakers are now accelerating their efforts to develop electric cars, and there are two main reasons for this. One is the tough new fuel economy rules the US administration of President Barack Obama will introduce in 2012...The second reason for the heightened focus on electric cars is China's move to promote them.

Japan's concern over the emergence of China as a legitimate player in the EV market is not unwarranted. China's push to become the worldwide leaders in EVs has several other countries in a hurried frenzy to develop battery-powered vehicles as well. According to the Nikkei:
Beijing has apparently decided to catapult the nation's auto industry into the electric age by skipping the transitional era of hybrids. Japanese carmakers need to respond to China's moves by developing electric vehicles that can compete favorably with rival Chinese offerings in this crucial market.
Toyota's dominance in the hybrid market could seemingly continue on forever, that is, if it's not cut short by Japan's fear of losing out on its limited chance to capture the emerging EV industry. Either way, it's a win-win situation for us greenies. Hat tip to David!

  • As you can see, the Honda EV-N can expertly carry three Easter eggs in its cargo area.

[Source: Nikkei – sub. req. via Green Car Congress]

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