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PHOTO CAPTION: Renault ZE Concept illustrated with wind turbines in the background

Electric Cars Shine in the City of Lights

As the race to offer the first commercially viable electric car charges up, automakers hoping to cash in on environmental concerns, though most won't be available for at least a couple years.

Published: 03-Oct-2008

PARIS -- As the race to offer the first commercially viable electric car charges up, automakers hoping to cash in on environmental concerns displayed a slew of models at the Paris Motor Show on Friday.

But executives acknowledged that uncertainties linger over the batteries needed to power them: technology needs to advance to meet cost and weight requirements, and infrastructure to recharge them is lacking.

Some of the models on show are still prototypes — such as Renault SA's Z.E. Concept — while others such as Daimler AG's all-electric Smart ED, have entered the test phase.

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Ray Lane, managing partner of venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers, which has invested in Think, believes Think could eventually sell as many as 30,000 to 50,000 City cars a year.

The production electric vehicle to be introduced in 2010 will have a unique bodystyle and is not based on any existing Nissan model, unlike the technology 'mule' pictured above.

The 100-mile range electric car has been operating with Japanese power companies for the last two years.

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