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Business trends

How success in hybrid cars turned Japan into an EV laggard

China and Western automakers dominate a field pioneered by Japanese players

A Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept electric vehicle at the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show. Japanese automakers sell far fewer EVs than the foreign competition.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Chinese and Western automakers now control 90% or so of the global electric-vehicle market, while their Japanese counterparts that similarly dominated a dozen years ago have fallen to less than 5%, Nikkei calculations show.

The starkly different trajectories of Japan and the rest are due in part to the massive success that Japanese automakers initially enjoyed with hybrid models -- and a desire not to compete with them.

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