Nissan plans electric cars in Portugal
Jul 9, 2008 - Yuri Kageyama - The Associated
Automakers Nissan and Renault will sell electric vehicles
in Portugal in 2011 and the allied companies have partnered
with the government in an attempt to create a national network
of charging stations.
Nissan has said it will sell electric cars globally in
2012, but the technology is still being developed. On Wednesday,
Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of the French and Japanese
automakers, and Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates
said they would work together to raise awareness about the
vehicles and try to make them easier to fuel.
Nissan has aggressively pursued deals with cities and governments
on electric vehicles, as soaring gas prices and worries
about global warming make the green technology more appealing.
Tokyo-based Nissan Motor Co. and partner Renault SA have
previously announced deals with Project Better Place, based
in Palo Alto, Calif., which promotes electric vehicles,
to mass market electric vehicles in Israel and Denmark in
While other car manufacturers concentrate on fuel cells
and hybrids, Nissan is going all out on electric vehicles,
promising to sell them globally in 2012, with the first
models arriving in Japan and the U.S. in 2010.
"We are feeling more strongly than ever that we must speed
up our development of electric vehicles," said Nissan Senior
Vice President Minoru Shinohara.
Nissan is also in talks with parking lot and railway companies
to set up recharging stations, he told The Associated Press
at the company's Tokyo headquarters Wednesday.
The lack of charging stations has made electric cars impractical
in the broader market. Skeptics say electric vehicles will
stay niche for some time.
Combined with high costs and other technological hurdles,
electric vehicles for the broader public are still experimental.
Proponents say tax breaks, preferential highways lanes
and other incentives would boost the appeal.
"It's still a very new technology and so much remains
to be seen," said Yasuaki Iwamoto, auto analyst with Okasan
Securities Co. "It's unlikely people are suddenly going
to switch in big numbers from gas-engine vehicles."
Portugal is a global leader in promoting renewable energy,
including wind and solar power.
"This agreement with Renault-Nissan will place Portugal
also on the front line in terms of sustainable mobility
with zero-emission vehicles," Socrates said. "Promoting
electric cars in Portugal will reduce our dependence on
imported oil and will contribute to a cleaner environment."
Shinohara said Japanese urbanites drive about 12 miles
a day - so the limited range of electric vehicles isn't
a problem for daily grocery shopping and other errands.
Nissan has not yet given details of the electric vehicle
it has in the works.
Fuji Heavy Industries, which makes Subaru cars, and Mitsubishi
Motors Corp. plan to offer electric vehicles in Japan next
year. Mitsubishi's electric vehicle travels 99 miles on
a single charge, while Subaru's goes 50 miles.
Mitsubishi plans to sell its electric vehicle in Europe
in 2010, while tests are planned for the U.S. for 2009.
Subaru has not decided on overseas sales plans for its electric
Masahiko Otsuka, president of Automotive Energy Supply
Corp., a joint venture between Nissan and Japanese electronics
maker NEC Corp. to produce batteries for electric vehicles,
said Nissan has a history dating back to 1992 of testing
lithium-ion batteries for cars.
Lithium-ion batteries are now more common in laptops and
other gadgets but can pack more power than the kind of batteries
in the gas-electric hybrids made by Toyota Motor Corp.
All major automakers are pushing new technology.
Honda Motor Co. is leasing a fuel-cell vehicle in California
which emits only water.
U.S. automaker General Motors Corp. is developing an electric
vehicle called the Chevrolet Volt, which it hopes to launch
in 2010. Ford Motor Co. has a demonstration fleet of 20