Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On the Horizon

Now that the number one automaker and the number two automaker has made the commitment to building Plug In hybrid / electric vehicles by 2010, another automotive giant is joining the race.

Here is the story from the New York Times:

Nissan Plans Electric Car in U.S. by ’10
Published: May 13, 2008

DETROIT — The Nissan Motor Company plans to sell an electric car in the United States and Japan by 2010, raising the stakes in the race to develop environmentally friendly vehicles.

The commitment — expected to be announced Tuesday by Nissan’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn — will be the first by a major automaker to bring a zero-emission vehicle to the American market. Nissan also expects to sell a lineup of electric vehicles globally by 2012.

In an interview Monday, Mr. Ghosn said Nissan decided to accelerate development of battery-powered vehicles because of high gasoline prices and environmental concerns, not just because of the need to meet stricter fuel-economy standards.

“What we are seeing is that the shifts coming from the markets are more powerful than what regulators are doing,” he said.

Mr. Ghosn said Nissan envisioned a broad range of electric vehicles, starting with small cars, and adding: “It’s not only about a small city car or a small minivan. It can also be about a small commercial vehicle and a small crossover.” clip

The company plans to introduce 60 models worldwide by 2012. Several new products are planned for the United States market, including a new Maxima sedan, the Cube small car and a new version of the Z-family sports cars.ew" more

And there is this from the Wall Street Journal:

"In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Ghosn said not all the electric cars Nissan manufactures will be purely electric or emission free. He said Nissan would make some models available with an optional "range extender" -- a gas-powered engine that recharges the battery and keeps the vehicle moving after the initial plug-in charge expires. Nissan, he said, aims to sell vehicles that are "pure electric, zero emission. But you always have the possibility of having a range extender."

Thus, Nissan will be offering serial plug in hybrids.

As this story from Business Week states, the rivalry in low carbon cars is heating up.

"Practically every automaker on the planet is being forced to make cars and trucks that pollute less and go farther on a tank of fuel. Here is what GM and its main rivals have in the pipeline.

GM (GM). The Chevrolet Volt is the sexiest green car in GM's arsenal. Due in November, 2010, the sedan will charge up in six hours and run for 40 miles before a small gasoline engine fires up and recharges the battery, extending the range to 600 miles.

Toyota (TM). It already has the Prius and five other hybrids selling in the U.S. The company plans to lease a limited number of plug-in hybrids by 2010 and put its gasoline-electric hybrid system into more models.

Honda (HMC). It's the contrarian. While Honda aims to launch another hybrid compact by 2010, it also has plans for clean diesel engines in anything larger than a Civic.

Nissan (NSANY). CEO Carlos Ghosn bought Toyota's hybrid system for the Altima family sedan. But in two years Nissan will replace it with one that's home-grown. Plus, in 2010, Nissan plans to start selling electric cars worldwide. They will use technology similar to GM's.

Ford (F). GM's crosstown rival is pushing its Eco Boost engines, which generate plenty of power and better fuel economy. And by the end of the decade two more hybrids will join the Escape SUV in Ford's gasoline-electric lineup.

PHEV's may not have arrived, but they are definitely on the horizon.

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