By John DeFore
Nissan Motor Company took the occasion of its financial-results stock exchange reporting (nearly $7 billion in profits from $90+ billion revenues in fiscal 2007) Tuesday in Tokyo to make an announcement of interest to those of us who don’t own stock. In 2010, the company plans to release an all-electric car in the United States and Japan, which should make it the first major auto company to do so.
That car will be part of a five-year plan dubbed “Nissan GT 2012″ — the letters standing for “growth” and “trust,” 2012 being the final fiscal year in which plans are to culminate — in which the company intends to lead the industry in zero-emission vehicles.
“Nissan GT 2012 reflects the determination of our company to play a major role in the development of a sustainable mobile society…We are convinced that the mass availability of affordable zero-emission vehicles is the most significant breakthrough our industry could deliver,” said President and CEO Carlos Ghosn in a company statement.
As a New York Times story on the move notes, Ghosn appears to have caught the green bug only recently: The paper points out that as recently as 2005 “he called gas-electric hybrids ‘niche products’ useful only to meet strict fuel-economy and emission standards in states like California.”
Rising oil prices and an undeniable wave of consumer sentiment have evidently changed the executive’s mind. “What we are seeing is that the shifts coming from the markets are more powerful than what regulators are doing,” he told the Times this week. Though he admits the number of all-electric cars moving through showrooms in 2010 will be measured in the hundreds, not thousands, the new model is still a step beyond that planned by GM, whose Chevy Volt (intended for 2010 introduction as well) will be a gas/electric hybrid, although one whose plug-in charging capability is an improvement over today’s hybrid cars.
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