Nissan Opts for Electric City Car

James Kingsdalec sees tectonic shift taking place in automotive industry in both technology and 'center of gravity.'

Published: 26-Jul-2008

As reported in today’s New York Times Carlos Ghosn the CEO of Nissan and Renault stated that Nissan will produce an all electric car with a range of 100 miles (U.S.) or 50 miles (E.U.) for release in 2010 - 2012. Ghosn believes the plug in electric hybrid is a mistake and that his all-electrics will be profitable, not a “loss-leader.”

How can a mere consumer-observer like myself question the judgement of the reigning guru of the global auto industry? Still…if I were on a lot and had a choice of an all electric for $30,000 that could go only 100 miles before needing to be recharged or a $40,000 hybrid that would go 40 or 50 miles on the battery alone and then 300 miles more when the gas motor kicks in to re-charge the battery - I don’t know.

Maybe it depends on whether the car is a secondary, only-around-town vehicle or if it needs to do everything. If I had two cars I might have one of each so maybe there is room for both. But if I had only one car, it would have to be the PHEV. I certainly am not going to wait for some battery exchange infrastructure to be built and then count on it being wherever I need it.

All this assumes gas cost well over $6 a gallon, probably closer to $10. That’s what I am anticipating to happen starting around 2010 and it must be what Ghosn thinks is likely too. I doubt he’d sell a lot of limited-range electric cars if gas stays about where it is or just creeps higher and certainly not if gas goes back to $3.

On a different subject, Ghosn mentioned that the automobile industry’s center of gravity is moving from Detroit to Tennessee. With all three Detroit based American car companies in danger of bankruptcy, it sounds like a permanent move.

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