admission, has lost its lead and is now scrambling to catch up.

Last summer, it announced its most ambitious battery-electric vehicle since the Leaf, an S.U.V. called the Ariya. And in January, the company said it would be carbon neutral by 2050, a decision that mirrored a new national policy change late last year.

But, like Japan’s other automakers, it is moving cautiously.

“For Nissan’s key markets, every all-new vehicle offering will be electrified by the early 2030s,” the company’s chief sustainability officer, Joji Tagawa, said in an email. But “in other markets, we will gradually switch to electrified vehicles.”

In the meantime, the company will heavily promote its newer hybrid technology, which it calls e-Power: essentially, an electric motor powered by a gas generator.

In Japan, the lack of government enthusiasm for emission-free cars is likely to put its automakers at a serious disadvantage, said Kazuo Yajima, the Leaf’s former lead engineer, who now runs Blue Sky Technology, a company that develops micro-electric vehicles.

China and the European Union have lost the race for hybrid technology, Mr. Yajima said, so their governments have made a strategic decision to invest in the development of electric cars, including key technologies like batteries.

Japanese automakers’ reluctance to make the leap to all-electric vehicles, Mr. Yajima said, could lead them to suffer the same fate as the country’s consumer electronics firms, which have largely faded into irrelevance because of their failure to stay ahead of market trends.

Mr. Inoue agrees. The automotive sector is “the final battlefield” for Japanese industry, he said.

“Now Japan is winning,” he said, “but I think in 10 years if we lose the opportunity to move to the electric vehicles field, we may lose.”

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