Electric cars will give designers the freedom to come up with more innovative-looking vehicles, says Shiro Nakamura, the chief creative officer of Nissan and Infiniti.
Concept cars such as Nissan's Pivo, and the Twizy from Alliance partner Renault, give clues to the sort of things we could see in years to come, according to Mr Nakamura.
The Pivo is a bubble-like car capable of being driven forwards, backwards or sideways, while the Twizy is a four-wheeled covered scooter, or quadricycle.
Twizy is scheduled for production in 2012, and will be largely unchanged from the concept car, but there is less chance of people ever being able to buy a Pivo as things stand.
'Technically it is feasible,' says Nakamura. 'The difficulty is cost. Would people be willing to pay $1million (650,000) for it? We want our electric vehicles to be as reasonable and affordable as possible, therefore we take a realistic approach.'
Eight EVs planned
The alliance plans to introduce eight electric vehicles within the next three or four years, the first of which the Nissan Leaf will be on sale later this year for just over 28,000 before Government grants.
In design terms it is not much different from petrol or diesel mid-sized hatchbacks already on sale, but Nakamura says that future electric cars are likely to be more avant-garde.
'Today we are utilising existing platforms, but we are gradually developing unique electric-vehicle platforms that will give us much more freedom with our second- or third-generation cars,' he says. 'We have much more interesting ideas coming.'
One of the four electric vehicles to come from the Nissan side of the Alliance will be an Infiniti, but Nakamura is warning people not to expect anything too radical. 'The first-generation Infiniti electric vehicle will not necessarily be too different (from the cars we are used to),' he says. 'But the emotional expression has to be Infiniti.'