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nissan's electric future

Nissan is considering an electric sports car similar to the Esflow concept.

Nissan Motor CEO Carlos Ghosn says his company will have four all-electric vehicles into the North American market, including the current Nissan Leaf, a small electric van and an electric Infiniti luxury sedan based on the Leaf.

The fourth EV might be a city car, an electric sports car suggested by the Esflow concept, or a crossover vehicle similar to the Townpod EV concept shown at the recent Tokyo Motor Show.

The betting money says Nissan will round out its EV offerings with a city car. Exactly what type of "city" car remains to be seen, however. No one at Nissan is will to make a firm commitment here.

What Ghosn will say is that the price of EVs from Nissan will go down. Right now all Leafs are assembled in Japan where the high-flying yen makes manufacturing for export uncompetitive and thus the Leaf in Canada lists for $28,395 before subsidies.

By the end of 2012, the Leaf and the battery in it will be assembled in lower-cost Smyrna, Tenn. The goal, says Ghosn, is to build a Leaf that is price-competitive without taxpayer subsidies. If all goes to plan, adds Ghosn, Nissan will have 10 per cent of the global market for EVs by 2020.

"I know that people are skeptical," he tells Automotive News. "They say, 'Where is it going to come from, who is going to buy these cars? And it's too expensive and it depends on government.'

"Except that we are selling every single car we are producing, and when we see the profile of the people – 55 years, 55 per cent male, $130,000 average income in the United States – I think the market is here.

"There is a demand for 500,000 a year globally between Renault and Nissan. After this, it is going to depend on a lot of factors. Competition. Oil price. How much do you think is going to be the oil price three or five years down the road?"