Electric cars head toward another dead end
Instead, Nissan plans to follow rival Toyota Motor Co , the world's largest purveyor of hybrids, which now is poised to leapfrog pure EVs altogether to pursue what might be the next big green-tech breakthrough: pollution- and petroleum-free fuel-cell cars that convert hydrogen to electricity.
Vice Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, the "father of the Prius" who helped put hybrids on the map, said he believes fuel-cell vehicles hold far more promise than battery electric cars.
"Because of its shortcomings - driving range, cost and recharging time - the electric vehicle is not a viable replacement for most conventional cars," said Uchiyamada. "We need something entirely new."
TOYOTA'S LONG LEAD
In the race to identify the Next Big Thing in automotive technology, the stakes are enormous.
For example, Nissan, with French partner Renault, has committed $5 billion for development and manufacture of EVs and batteries - a risky bet that could take years to pay off - while Toyota has spent an estimated $10 billion or more over the past 16 years to develop, build and market an ever-expanding range of hybrids, led by the popular and now profitable Prius.
While neither Nissan nor Toyota is likely to pull the plug on electric cars, it is clear from their recent moves that both companies are looking beyond EVs to meet future transportation needs.
Both automakers began advanced green-car engineering programs in the mid-1990s, with Toyota introducing the first-generation Prius hybrid and Nissan unveiling the battery-powered Altra in
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