The means of vehicle propulsion - sources of mechanical work - comprise Otto or Diesel cycle engines. However, in hybrid or purely electric vehicles, the arrangements of powertrain can be configured in a whole range of new possibilities. The demands of working arrangements and specific performance in automotive applications are now imposed on the electric motorization. The electrical energy storage has been of interest for science and technology due to the multiplicity of solutions that rely on this function. The theoretical principles have evolved, as well the technological resources and the knowledge of materials. This exploratory study investigates the national objectives for electric and hybrid vehicles in Japan and South Korea regarding types of light-duty urban vehicles under development and their main characteristics in terms of vehicle propulsion seeking to present the progress achieved by companies that already sell some models, including Hyundai, KIA, Nissan and Toyota. Secondary data were collected from specific literature and technical publications. In addition, we considered the public policies adopted in Japan and South Korea at different stages and specificities of the value chain of electric and hybrid cars. With this study, we expect contribute to mapping the possibilities and alternatives for a sustainable development of the emerging industry of electric and hybrid vehicles in Brazil.