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APRIL 2, 2009, 7:57 AM

Nissan Rolls On With Its Electric Car

 

By BRADLEY BERMAN

Nissan is using the Cube as a test mule for its electric drivetrain. The design for its electric car, due in 2010, will be original.

 

480-nissan-cube-ev.jpg

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — President Obama’s auto task force cast doubt this week on the business case for the Chevrolet Volt, the extended-range electric vehicle from General Motors. The task force’s written assessment said big cost reductions were needed to make the vehicle “commercially viable.”

 

Nissan, however, is gushing with confidence about the business case for its pure electric car, which goes on sale to fleets in 2010 and to retail customers in 2012.

 

“This is not a test or demonstration,” Mark Perry, a product planner for Nissan said here on the second stop of a 12-city tour. “We’re ready for mass production.”

 

The company won’t reveal the name of the electric car, and it won’t reveal what it will look like. For the company’s dog-and-pony show, it is using a Japanese-market Nissan Cube outfitted with the same electric drivetrain that will go into a newly designed electric car. The only similarity between the Cube and Nissan’s mystery electric car is the size — something similar to a four-door Nissan Sentra. Mr. Perry told me the car will have an “iconic electric vehicle” look, without being “Jetsons or Blade Runner.”

 

Driving range will be 100 miles, with a full recharge time of four hours from a recommended 220-volt charger (and eight hours for 110v).

 

My three-minute spin around the parking lot of the Cal Expo was completely unremarkable. And that is Nissan’s point — to prove that its E.V. is just like a normal car.

 

To show that its E.V. is as a viable alternative to a gas-powered sedan, Nissan is pricing it just like one. The company is targeting a price of around $25,000-$30,000. A $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles with at least l6 kilowatt-hours of energy storage — the Nissan EV will exceed that — could drop the cost below $20,000. The company said it believed the lower cost of electricity versus gasoline will create an instant payback for customers.

 

“Batteries are a lot of the expense. But we’re moving to mass production as fast as we can to reach economies of scale,” Mr. Perry said.

 

Nissan has a 51 percent share in the Automotive Energy Supply Corporation, a joint venture to produce batteries with Japan’s NEC Corporation. Nissan said this experience will help it reduce expenses. The lithium-ion battery for a $25,000 electric vehicle could cost $10,000 or more.

 

“We’re confident in the battery, because it’s our battery,” Mr. Perry said. “Our engineers developed it.”

 

Copyright 2009 The New York Times CompanyPrivacy PolicyNYTimes.com 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018

 

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/nissan-rolls-on-with-its-electric-car/?pagemode=print

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