NYT: Israel Aiming to be Electric Car Leader

The Jewish state wants to be an early adopter of this long overdue technology.
Nissan Plans Electric Car in U.S. by ’10

DETROIT — The Nissan Motor Company plans to sell an electric car in the United States and Japan by 2010, raising the stakes in the race to develop environmentally friendly vehicles.

The commitment — expected to be announced Tuesday by Nissan’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn — will be the first by a major automaker to bring a zero-emission vehicle to the American market. Nissan also expects to sell a lineup of electric vehicles globally by 2012.

In an interview Monday, Mr. Ghosn said Nissan decided to accelerate development of battery-powered vehicles because of high gasoline prices and environmental concerns, not just because of the need to meet stricter fuel-economy standards.

“What we are seeing is that the shifts coming from the markets are more powerful than what regulators are doing,” he said.

Mr. Ghosn said Nissan envisioned a broad range of electric vehicles, starting with small cars, and added: “It’s not only about a small city car or a small minivan. It can also be about a small commercial vehicle and a small crossover.”

Mr. Ghosn was not always enthusiastic about alternative-fuel technology. In a 2005 speech to the National Automobile Dealers Association, he called gas-electric hybrids “niche products” useful only to meet strict fuel-economy and emission standards in states like California....

“We would never have done this if the Israeli government was not encouraging it,” he said. “Whoever puts the most incentive on the table is going to get the technology first.”

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