Japan's three largest automakers are making a push to extend their alternative-fuel powertrain offerings in the next two years.
Toyota Motor Corp. will bring two electric and six hybrid-electric models to market in the next 24 months, including a plug-in Toyota Prius. Lexus will move into entry-luxury with the CT 200h hybrid hatchback in 2011.
Nissan Motor Co. will launch the all-electric Nissan Leaf sedan in five markets in December. Infiniti will introduce the M35h hybrid next spring and an all-electric four-seater in late 2012 or early 2013.
Honda Motor Co. engineers are working on a hybrid platform for such large vehicles as the Honda Accord and Pilot and top Acura models.
Meanwhile, there's no letup in mainstream products from the Japanese carmakers.
-- Toyota will launch a redesigned Camry, RAV4 crossover and Tacoma pickup within the next 18 months.
-- Honda will launch a redesigned Civic and CR-V crossover next year and the Accord in the summer of 2012.
-- Nissan is rolling out the Juke crossover this fall, a redesigned Quest minivan early next year and major updates of the Altima and the Versa compact car for the 2013 model year.
The luxury units of the three companies have their own agendas. Infiniti launches its entry-level G25 sedan this month. Lexus is ramping up a sequence of new and redesigned vehicles, and Acura is still recovering from the economic crisis that halted its V-8 and rear-drive engineering programs.
At Scion, executives are pondering just how many new vehicles should carry the Scion badge, especially because the strong yen makes the Japan-built cars expensive to sell here.