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Nissan Oz commits to all-electric car by 2012

Three years away: First seen at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show, the Mixim concept will donate its electric drive system to Nissan's new electric car.

Nissan could leapfrog Holden to become the first to sell a plug-in car Down Under

10 Oct 2008

NISSAN is leading the race to bring a mass-produced zero-emissions electric vehicle to Australian new-car showrooms.

The Japanese company has announced it will have a plug-in electric family car on sale here in 2012 - the same year Holden plans to bring in General Motors' range-extending plug-in hybrid, the Chevrolet Volt.

The managing director of Nissan Australia, Dan Thompson, told GoAuto at yesterday's Australian International Motor Show opening in Sydney that Australia will be in the ‘first wave’ of export markets to receive the mass-produced Nissan EV in 2012 - two years after pilot EV samples enter the Japan and US markets.

Mr Thompson was speaking at a briefing given by two key Nissan Motor Company executives, who flew to Australia to outline Nissan’s EV rollout strategy to the press. They will also address federal and state governments, utility companies and other stakeholders about infrastructure requirements for such a vehicle.

12 center imageMr Fancois Bancon, Nissan’s general manager of global exploratory and advanced product - overseeing projects such as the Mixim EV concept - said the Nissan EV will be a four or five-seater based on a B-segment platform car and will weigh less than 1000kg, have a range of more than 160km and accelerate to 100km/h in less than nine seconds.

The other key performance indicator for an EV - battery recharge time - is 30 minutes for a ‘fast charge’ to 80 per cent capacity, and three to six hours for a full recharge.

Mr Bancon says that battery life is eight years, with an expected five per cent loss of efficiency over that time. In its present form, the Lithium-ion battery pack weighs 200kg, although Nissan believes it will reduce this weight before mass-production begins in 2012.

While a key requirement is “performance for highway driving”, Mr Bancon says that range will be extended beyond the current 160km figure, and added that battery fire risk - a problem he acknowledged competitors have raised with their Lithium-ion batteries - simply was not a technical issue for Nissan.

According to Mr Bancon, the EV will share the basic "Super" motor and Lithium-ion battery pack powertrain of the Mixim concept, but will not follows the Mixim’s radical design. “It will be attractive, iconic but mainstream,” he said.

Mr Bancon also acknowledged the high costs involved in EVs and how they will influence pricing structures.

While he says that the cost of producing an EV is not any more expensive than today’s petrol cars, the cost of the battery pack is the problem. “It is $5000-$10,000 right now, but we have plans to decrease the costs,” he said.

Mr Bancon suggested that purchasing an EV might be a separate transaction to purchasing the battery pack to power it with. Leasing the battery pack, for example, may be the solution, but given “oil is not going to become cheaper” that the battery pack - if considered as a ‘fuel’ cost - would be cheaper than running a petrol-powered car.

One key issue to introducing the EV is infrastructure. Ms Rayna Handelman, Nissan’s global electric vehicle co-ordinator at Nissan's corporate planning office, said that while ‘swap stations’ were a possibility, plug-in charging (whether the 30-minute quick-charge or a full three to six-hour charge) was the more viable option.

On the issue of Australia’s predominantly coal-fired power stations affecting the Nissan EV’s zero-emissions status, Ms Handelman said that the EV is still a cleaner form of transport than a conventional car.

In such cases “there is a 40 per cent decrease in emissions versus a typical mid-size internal combustion engine,” she said.

Read more:

Nissan Australia's electric blues

First look: Nissan's electric Mixim

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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