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Nissan rolls out new electric car


Nissan rolls out new electric car

Japanese carmaker Nissan has unveiled its first electric car, taking it closer to its aim to become the first car firm to mass produce the vehicles.

The zero-emission hatchback vehicle, called Leaf, is set to go on sale in Japan, the US and Europe next year. Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn did not announce the prices but said it would be “very competitive”.

“The monthly cost of the battery, plus the electric charge, will be less than the cost of gasoline,” Mr Ghosn said.

Nissan, Japan’s third largest carmaker, has been slower than rivals Toyota and Honda to embrace hybrids, which run on petrol and electric engines, and is instead pinning its hopes on solely battery-powered cars.

Electric cars have struggled to become mainstream because of limited battery life and high costs. But Mr Ghosn insisted that the Leaf would not be a niche-market vehicle.

“We need to invest a lot of money to build the car plants and the battery plants at a moment where all the auto companies are saving investments,” he said.

“But there is such a high potential that we (will) go ahead with it.”

Nissan has chosen the UK as one of its bases to produce batteries for electric cars. It is investing £200m at its Sunderland factory, which is expected to create 350 jobs. Nissan has said that it plans to make 100,000 electric cars a year by 2012.

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