Electric cars head toward another dead end
Toyota brought the Prius to the United States in 2000, but it took Nissan another 10 years to follow the low-volume Altra and other modest electric-car projects such as the Hypermini with the handsomely funded 2010 launch of the Leaf.
With Uchiyamada overseeing continuous refinement of the Prius, Toyota took a 10-year lead in the green-car derby. Along the way, though, Toyota effectively subsidized billions of dollars in development, manufacturing and marketing costs through the first two generations of the Prius, according to former Toyota executives.
While it took the Toyota hybrid six years to catch fire with U.S. consumers, the latest sales data points to the widening chasm between the two companies' radically different approaches to electrification.
In the past year, Toyota has broadened its hybrid portfolio to 12 models, including four versions of the Prius, now in its third generation. Toyota in 2012 sold 327,413 hybrids in the United States and 1.2 million globally. Worldwide sales of its hybrids now approach 5 million.
The Prius accounts for more than half of those sales, making it the most successful green car in history and one of the few exceptions to the public's yawning indifference to green vehicles and technology.
The Leaf, on the other hand, has been the rule rather than the exception.
Nissan unveiled the Leaf two years ago and to date has sold just under 50,000 worldwide. It sold 9,819 last year in the United States, well under its target of 20,000.
As part of a year-end sales push, Nissan slapped incentives of
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