Nissan Motor is open to a green car alliance with Chinese automakers, a senior executive said, as it moves to tap the fledgling industry in the world’s largest auto market.
Nissan, 44% held by Renault, is joining General Motors and others in the race for green vehicles which according to analysts, could be the next industry gold mine.
“It’s impossible to develop electric vehicles alone. Joint effort is a more feasible solution,” Yasuaki Hashimoto, president of Nissan China Investment Co, said in an interview.
“Mr Li had also said the alliance won’t stop at the existing 16 member companies only. It can be expanded,” Hashimoto said, referring to Li Rongrong, head of China’s state asset watchdog who has recently retired.
Nissan and Hawaii have agreed to build an electric vehicle charging infrastructure network across the state to boost E.V. deployment.
Nissan will guarantee a steady stream of the Leaf to the state and will work with dealers to ensure smooth selling and lease.
Additionally, Hawaii has put in place a $4,500 state tax credit on the purchase of electric vehicles and a $500 state tax credit on the purchase and installation of home charging stations. That incentive coupled with a $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles coming from the federal purse could significantly reduce the cost of the Nissan Leaf from the suggested retail price of $32,780 to $20,780.
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Speaking of lithium-ion batteries, a recent life-cycle analysis (a type of study that aims to find the complete environmental impact of something, taking into account manufacturing, usage, and disposal) of the lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars had some very interesting findings. It turns out that batteries have an even lower impact than most of us thought.
The company said yesterday that over the next several weeks, the 18,600 people who have already reserved a $32,780 LEAF will be invited to choose the color, trim level and place an order for their car.
The federal government has unveiled its proposal for the most significant overhaul of cars’ fuel economy labels in 30 years. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation have put together two options for window stickers in new vehicles starting with 2012 model year, including one label with a letter grade system ranging from A+ to D based on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy.
The system, which is still a work in progress and open to public comment, would give high marks to plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and could affect how car shoppers perceive the relative costs and benefits of different technologies and models for years to come. “American consumers are quickly accepting advanced technology vehicles,” said National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland in a call with reporters today. “Old petroleum-centric labels just aren’t good enough anymore.”
According to the proposed rule making and federal officials who spoke with reporters today, electric vehicles would typically earn the A+ grade, while plug-in hybrids would generally fall into the A category and hybrids like the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid and Honda Civic Hybrid would earn an A-. Upcoming models like the electric Nissan LEAF and extended-range electric Chevy Volt from General Motors have yet to be certified by the EPA, said EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy, so she could not give a sense of what grade they would get under the proposed rating system.
Applied to 2010 model year vehicles, high performance cars like the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and Mercedes-Benz Maybach 57 would bring up the rear with D+ and D letter grades, based on more than 689 grams of CO2 emissions per mile and fuel efficiency equivalent to 13 MPG or less.
McCarthy explained that grades would be distributed across “a pretty standard bell curve,” with a B- as the median. Vehicles would be compared with all models in that year’s fleet, rather than having SUVs compete only against other SUVs, for example. There would be no failing grade, McCarthy said, because only cars that comply with the Clean Air Act can be sold.
While it looks like you can officially order Nissan’s all-electric LEAF this Tuesday, there’s another all-electric car option coming to market soon — within months — from startup Coda Automotive that’s promising a longer, more reliable, range. In an extended interview at Coda’s headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif. last Thursday, Coda CEO Kevin Czinger told us that Coda will start delivering electric sedans to customers in December, and he said the Coda Sedan can get 40 percent more driving range than the LEAF under most conditions. Czinger also told us that Coda just last week passed a crucial phase in its DOE loan application, and that the company is also in the process of raising another $125 million round of financing, with participation by Morgan Stanley.
While the deep-pocketed Nissan has been ramping up an all-out marketing bonanza around its LEAF (see the latest commercial here), which will be the first mass-produced all-electric car on the market, Coda — a venture-backed three-year-old startup — will be raising funds and also kicking its marketing and outreach into high gear over the next three months. Coda and Nissan have vastly different origins and some different intentions, but it’s easy to start making comparisons between their inaugural cars, given they are the first two all-electric mainstream-targeted cars on the market.
To read the full comparision click here.
Starting tomorrow, you can officially order a Nissan LEAF, and I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that we’ve been pretty excited about this vehicle. It will be the first mass-produced all-electric car on the market and, with federal and state incentives included, it will also be affordable. But I’m getting a bit nervous as well.