Nissan sold 62,465 EVs and hybrids in 2012, including 30,112 Serena mild hybrids and 26,978 Leaf EVs. The auto maker failed to meet its Leaf target by nearly half.

Management appears to be shifting focus slightly toward hybrids. In December, the auto maker disclosed it would introduce 15 Nissan- and Infiniti-brand hybrids by 2017. First up will be the new Pathfinder and Infiniti Q50 CUV hybrids due out this summer.

Two-thirds of Nissan and Infiniti hybrids will feature the auto maker’s new front-wheel-drive system that debuted on the Pathfinder at the New York auto show in April. Nissan announced earlier it would introduce a PHEV in fiscal 2015.

Most current Nissan hybrids are concentrated in the luxury segment and thus have limited volume potential. They include the Fuga and Infiniti Q70 hybrids (formerly the M series hybrid), the Cima and the new Q50 Hybrid. All four models feature rear-wheel drive.

The auto maker hopes to sell 40,000 Q50 hybrids annually.

The Pathfinder and other FWD hybrids will incorporate JATCO’s new hybrid continuously variable transmission developed for 2.0L-3.5L vehicles and incorporating one motor and two clutches.

Mitsubishi, the first auto maker to mass-produce an EV (the i-MiEV in 2009), was one of the big losers in 2012 as it fell more than 80% short of its sales goal.

The auto maker delivered only 9,124 EVs, well below its 50,000-unit target. Then, just as it began to shift its focus away from EVs to PHEVs with the January launch of the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid, Mitsubishi was hit in mid-March with a recall related to overheating problems with the SUV’s Li-ion battery pack.

The batteries involved in the recall of more than 3,800 vehicles were produced by Lithium Energy Japan, Mitsubishi’s JV with GS Yuasa. The auto maker’s other Li-ion battery supplier, Toshiba, was not involved.

Outlander PHEV production resumed in early May, several weeks after the supplier found the source of the problem, and Mitsubishi says it will not delay the CUV’s North American launch next January.

However, Mitsubishi has frozen its product plan until management gets a clearer picture of the EV market’s direction. The auto maker two years ago announced plans to launch a second PHEV in fiscal 2013, a third PHEV and fourth EV in fiscal 2014, and a fourth PHEV in fiscal 2015.

Mazda will introduce its first hybrid in early 2014. The car, initially to be sold only in Japan, will incorporate Toyota’s hybrid technology. No details about the model or planned sales volume have been disclosed.

The auto maker began leasing the first of 100 battery-powered Demio minicars in October, mainly to Hiroshima-area government and corporate customers. Retail sales are scheduled for 2018.

Fuji Heavy Industries, maker of Subaru vehicles, unveiled a prototype of its first hybrid car at the New York auto show in April. The model, the XV Crosstrek, launches later this year.

It incorporates a 2.0L, 4-cyl. flat engine, 10-kW (13.4-hp) motor, CVT and 13.5-kWh NiMH battery supplied by Panasonic. Like other Subaru cars, the XV Crosstrek employs the auto maker’s signature AWD technology. Expected fuel economy is 47 mpg (5.0 L/100 km).

Suzuki is conducting fleet tests of a PHEV version of its 0.7L Swift minicar for the Japanese market.