Nissan look to electrify car market

Posted on 24 Jun 2009 by The Manufacturer

Japanese automotive giant Nissan has outlined its intention to emerge from the global downturn as the leading producer of zero-emission electric cars, announcing that it aims to produce 100,000 units a year by 2012.

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn said the firm plans to commercially release three electric models, the first of which is to be unveiled in August and is due to go on sale in Japan and the US next year. Nissan’s French sister firm Renault will also make three plug-in cars.

“We have a different strategy from other manufacturers when it comes to electric cars,” said Ghosn. “We are the only one working to mass-market EVs [electric vehicles] and investing for mass marketing.

He conceded the strategy is “a risk” but put faith in the company’s plans as “a bet in the right direction.”

Nissan will produce the electric cars in its native Japan and the US, the government of which has provided the manufacturer with a $1.6bn low-interest loan to help work on the technology for the electric cars and lithium ion battery packs that they run on. The money is part of an $8bn pot made available by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. As a result, Nissan is likely to use its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee as a main production site

Other recipients of cash from the fund include Ford and Tesla.

Ford will get $5.9bn over two years to make an electric version of its Focus model while Tesla will get just shy of $500m to build a new factory.

Nissan appears to have taken the initiative on electric due to its main rival’s – Toyota and Honda – focus on hybrids. Mitsubishi meanwhile is releasing an electric model itself next month. The iMiev will be sold in Japan for $47,000 and the manufacturer expects to shift around 30,000 units per year.