Nissan has announced that it will be unveiling a global pure electric vehicle in Japan on August 2nd. The yet-to-be-seen 5 seat compact car will begin
mass production in late 2010 and will be available in the North American market. It will have a 100 mile electric range. The image above is the mule
using a Cube body, and has nothing to do with the final design. I had the chance to discuss this upcoming vehicle and strategy with Mark Perry who is
Nissan’s director of product planning.
Other companies are doing gas plug-in hybrids and EREVs, but Nissan has put its money on the pure electric, why is that and what do you think of the
I only will talk about us. The whole issue on our mind is zero emissions. The only way you can achieve zero emission at the tailpipe is in a pure
battery electric vehicle. You’re zero emission all the time, you don’t fall off the wagon after 12 miles or 40 miles. When you make that
commitment you’re looking ahead not only to the regulatory pressure that’s coming but the consumer and environmental pressure that’s coming. To
achieve zero emissions you have to do it with electrification.
Now you can still do fuel cells or plug-in battery electrics. Every manufacturer has those same two options. But fuel cells and hydrogen are a lot
longer away than a vehicle you can plug into the existing electric grid.
I assume Nissan isn’t going to change its whole fleet into electric cars, so why not have a car in between? Obviously there are range
Again what you’re talking about is, he who wins in the zero emission race is he who gets his costs down and his manufacturing scale high. So how do
you start, you start now. You make investments in assembly plants globally. Building hundreds of thousands of vehicles is what we’re setting out to
Now we’re not saying that the internal combustion engine is disappearing but long-term to achieve the 90% reduction in CO2 that all the policy
makers, all the regulatory folks and the scientists are all calling for, the only way you can do it is through electrification. You cannot improve the
combustion engine to achieve a 90% reduction in CO2.
There is also the rational issue and the emotional issue. The rational issue is 98% of the population drives less than 100 miles per day. That’s a
fact. Volt has picked 40 because that number is 72 to 76%. So if I have 100 miles of range I’m more than covering people’s daily commuting and
transportation needs and allowing them to charge overnight and become zero emission all the time.
The question always comes is this my primary or my secondary car? The answer is what’s your definition of your primary car? If your primary car is
the vehilce you use every day you go back and forth to work in you do your chores and your shopping, then this is your primary car. The car you take
on vacation or carry seven people or tow your boat with that’s your other car.
So you’re aiming at a very specific market with this vehicle?
Not a specific market, it’s the mass market.
What about range anxiety?
Thats a behavioral issue. People today are used to having no restraints. So you can buy as big a house as you want and spend as much money on credit
cards as you want and continue to pollute and drive around in a 5000 pound vehicle with 350 miles of gasoline in your tank. Those things clearly are
charging. We know from all the consumer research we have done that there are plenty of people that are looking for that alternative and want it, and
are just waiting for somebody to come with a mass market affordable electric vehicle for them to drive. Not some neighborhood electric vehicle or
something with 20 miles of range, but something that they can use every day. That’s what we’re looking to do.
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