How the finished product will look

* Electric car here by 2012 * We drive prototype * Top speed 85mph; range 100 miles...

How the finished product will look

The actual car that the finalised drivetrain will be housed in is still being designed, as it will be an all-new model rather than an existing vehicle with electric power.

Company officials say it will be a four-seater somewhere between supermini and small family car in size, and it will have striking looks.

'An electric drivetrain takes up less space than a conventional combustion engine, so it opens up new possibilities for the designers and stylists,' said Kazuhiro Doi, General Manager of Nissan's Technology Development Division.

'To improve range it is important that the car is as aerodynamic as possible, and because we don't need an engine the wheelbase can be shorter and the bonnet much lower. The end result should be a very distinctive car.'