Electric Nissan cars in the United States by 2010?

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that Nissan plans to introduce a number of electric cars in the United States by 2010.

Nissan, an alliance partner of Renault SA of France, will launch electric vehicles in the U.S. and Japan in 2010, and globally by 2012, Mr. Ghosn said at a Nissan event in Portugal. He said he expects the market for electric vehicles to grow strongly due to high oil prices, a new awareness of environmental issues and breakthroughs in battery technology.

Eventually, Nissan “will have a whole lineup of electric cars,” he said. “The electric car is not a niche product for us.”

Mr. Ghosn said battery-technology advances have given the electric car sufficient range to make it a viable mode of transport for the shorter journeys often made by commuters in big cities. Globally about 10 million vehicles are being used in this way, he said.

High oil prices and the willingness of governments to give tax incentives for so-called zero-emission vehicles can change the economics of owning an electric car and make it “cheaper than gasoline,” Mr. Ghosn said.

Nissan and Renault are in talks with “companies, governments and cities,” to see what kind of incentives can make the introduction of zero-emission vehicles more attractive, he said.

Mr. Ghosn expects new areas of business will open as electric vehicles become more widespread, including making the batteries and providing access to batteries and electricity. Moving beyond merely making cars could see “a change of the business model” in the auto industry.

I have my wallet out and I am ready to purchase an electric car that costs $50K or less, has a range of at least 60 miles, similar safety features as a regular car, and a top speed of at least 70 mph. Here in Dallas where I live, electric cars would make a big difference with air quality issues alone, and I’d love to see cleaner air here.

Let’s hope we’ll see a real electric car that people can actually purchase in the next year or two! (Yes, Tesla and Phoenix Motorcars, the “can actually purchase” jibe is aimed squarely at you. Won’t it be embarrassing if Nissan beats you to market?)


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