Nissan recently announced plans to produce electric vehicles for the U.S. market by 2010. This upstages announcements from both GM and Toyota, which have also announced plans for plug-in production. Nissan’s commitment will make it the first automaker to sell zero emission vehicles in the U.S. Well, the first in the second wave anyway. (See “Who Killed the Electric Car“).
Nissan’s chief exec sites high gas prices and environmental concerns as central to the announcement. The first model will go 100 miles on a charge and is targeted primarily at city drivers. Other models will have a combustion back-up for extended range (PHEV). Nissan plans to go global with zero emission vehicles by 2012.
Thanks to the persistence of Freedom From Oil activists, electric vehicle advocates and clean transportation proponents, companies like Nissan are doing an about face where gasoline vehicles are concerned. This announcement is a welcomed (albeit overdue) departure from the company leader’s former opinion. In a 2005 speech he called gas-electric hybrids “niche products” useful only to meet strict fuel-economy and emission standards in states like California.
So, GM and Toyota, who’s the industry leader now? Nissan?