Nissan's zero-emission car plans

* Focus is on small cars for short term * but range-extended technology is being developed * Ampera is a plug-in hybrid, says Nissan boss...

Nissan's zero-emission car plans

Nissan is focusing its zero-emissions efforts on small cars in the short-term, but it is also working on range-extender technology.

Nissan's boss of zero emissions, Andy Palmer, said the company was aiming for 10% of its sales to be electric vehicles by 2020, but that batteries needed for cars larger than the Leaf small family car posed a problem.

'Today 's EV (electric vehicle) technology does give us some limitations. So, in the short term, I would tend to limit EVs to the supermini, small family car and small van segments.

'Above this weight limitation, the batteries tend to become large and in consequence heavy and expensive. This makes it hard to match our vision of selling EVs (including incentives) at a price broadly equal to that of an internal combustion engine vehicle.'

Although the electric range of the Leaf is sufficient for the majority of journeys, Palmer also discussed the possibility of range-extender technology for the company's electric vehicles. We want to be the undisputed leaders in zero emissions.

'We are currently working on a range-extended EV solution, but we have no firm plans to launch it at the moment.'

The Vauxhall Ampera question
Palmer doesn't see the kind of technology used by the Vauxhall Ampera as a zero-emissions solution, however.

'In our definition, the Ampera is a plug-in hybrid it has a tailpipe. Therefore it doesn't meet our definition of zero emissions. That is not to say we think hybrids are a bad idea; we think that they have their place and we are also deploying hybrid solutions.'

General Motors (parent company of Chevrolet and Vauxhall) has argued that the Vauxhall Ampera and Chevrolet Volt are not plug-in hybrids, because power from the internal combustion engine is indirectly sent to the wheels of the car.