Japanese auto giants Nissan and Honda announced Friday they had agreed to explore a strategic partnership in electric vehicles and other areas.

Analysts said the move was aimed at catching up with Chinese rivals who have stolen a march in EVs while Japanese firms have lost ground by focusing more on hybrid vehicles.

"To further accelerate efforts toward carbon neutrality and zero traffic-accident fatalities, it will be essential to strengthen environmental and electrification technologies as well as software development," a joint statement said.