By John Addison (11/24/08). Nissan is serious about being the leader in electric vehicles by taking a three-step approach: (1) developing a charging infrastructure, (2) seeding the market with EVs in 2010, and (3) leading in EV manufacturing volume in 2012. The initial vehicles show-off a new body design, be freeway speed, and have a 100-mile range.
In August, Nissan unveiled all-electric and hybrid electric prototype vehicles, both powered by advanced lithium-ion batteries from the Nissan-NEC joint-venture, Automotive Energy Supply Corporation.
Friday, at a Nissan reception, I discussed product strategy with Mark Perry, Nissan Director of Product Planning, and with Alan Buddendeck, Vice President of Corporate Communications. Nissan is serious about being the leader in electric vehicles. Nissan will be ready with exciting electric vehicles in 2010. They expect the market to take only two years from that point to be ready for volume buying. A public charging infrastructure will be important to many buyers.
Nissan will face serious electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid competition from Toyota, GM, BMW, Mercedes, Think, Tesla, and a number of exciting smaller innovators. Nissan plans on lead by focusing on zero emission vehicles (ZEV), rather than focus on plug-in hybrids. Longer term, Nissan expects to see many urban centers, such as London, where only ZEV will be exempt from expensive daily congestion fees.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance has begun ZEV initiatives in Europe and Asia including Israel, Denmark, Portugal, Monaco, Japan, and with French electric utility company EDF. Now they are forging alliances in the United States.
With Nissan USA located in Tennessee, it is seeing strong support there for a statewide charging infrastructure. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen stated, “Our clean-energy future depends on our ability to find real strategies for encouraging Tennesseans to adopt a zero-emission mindset.” The state is focused on heavily trafficked Interstate 24 and Interstate 65 corridors.
“As the nation’s largest public power supplier, TVA is looking forward to being part of this project to explore the potential of electric vehicles,” said TVA Chairman William Sansom in joining the Tennessee initiative. “Electric vehicles could put electricity to work overnight, or off-peak, when other power needs are lower.”
Across the nation, Oregon is one of 17 states that is addressing growing climate problems by implementing carbon emission cap-and-trade. Oregon is part of the West Coast Governors Global Warming Initiative. Nissan has committed to supply ZEVs to the state of Oregon and to help promote an EV Charging Network. Active in the Oregon initiative is Portland General Electric (PGE), which has installed six charging stations this year.
California is also a member of West Coast Governors Global Warming Initiative. California, as the world’s third largest consumer of petroleum, has a compelling need to expand the use of zero-emission vehicles.
The mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland announced a $1 billion project to build a regional network of electric car charging stations. An important part of the regional network is the promotion of harmonized standards across the region, which should encourage the participation of many automakers and charging infrastructure providers. The Bay Area initiative will include expedited permits, financial incentives, and a roll-out plan for charging equipment. Although the network investment is estimated to ultimately reach $1 billion, the process of developing public and private investment is just beginning.
The Bay Area initiative is endorsed by innovators such as Better Place, which has raised over $100 million to provide a charging infrastructure and to provide batteries using a subscription model.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger supported the project, “This type of public-private partnership is exactly what I envisioned when we created the first-ever low carbon fuel standard and when the state enacted the zero emissions vehicle program.”
The Mayors’ announcement could create a national model. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi supported the announcement, “Promoting the use of electric vehicles will help forward our nation’s goals to achieve energy independence, to protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to boost the economy by providing jobs in an emerging manufacturing sector.”
John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. In March 2009 his new book, Save Gas, Save the Planet, will be published.