Japanese carmakers are betting big on hybrid technology to meet tighter pollution standards in the wake of a scandal over diesel emissions involving Volkswagen A.G.
Toyota Motor Corp., the maker of Prius hybrid cars, said gas-electric hybrid vehicles account for 14 percent of its global sales.
Diesel cars are expected to account for about 12 percent this year compared with Volkswagen’s roughly 25 percent, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Volkswagen, whose market value is off nearly 30 percent since the scandal erupted, has lost its chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, who resigned Wednesday.
“In recent years, progress in clean diesel cars has been significant, becoming a threat to Japan, which tries to popularize hybrid cars,” said Masayuki chief strategist of Rakuten Securities.
He said the Volkswagen revelations could “give a tailwind for hybrid carmakers by getting rid of a rival”.
In recent years, Volkswagen and other European carmakers have been pushing so-called clean diesel technology, fitting cars with updated emissions systems to reduce the amount of particulate matter and nitrous oxide.
The US Environmental Protection Agency said last week that Volkswagen used software on some VW and Audi diesel-powered cars to cheat US pollution tests.
Japanese manufacturers have lagged behind their German rivals in clean diesel technology, with one exception — Mazda Motor Corp.
Mazda’s diesel car sales have climbed in recent years since it introduced a new, fuel-efficient diesel technology dubbed Skyactiv-D.
About 11 percent of its global vehicle sales last fiscal year were diesel vehicles, up from 9 percent a year ago.
In Japan, diesel vehicles accounted for 44 percent of Mazda’s auto sales so far this year.
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