Nissan EV-02 - Click above for a high-res image gallery
Despite the sorry state of the global economy, Nissan is investing rather heavily into electric vehicles these days, which is why the Japanese automaker won a $1.6 billion low interest loan under the U.S. Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program to build batteries and vehicles at its facility in Smyrna, TN.
Nissan's stated goal of mass-producing EVs by 2012 is going to be costly, but the automaker apparently believes building electric cars will finally become part a viable business plan by that time. Andy Palmer, senior vice president and head of product planning at Nissan, had the following to say at at the Reuters Japan Investment Summit:
Normal car development cost is about $300 to $500 million, and EVs are above the upper range of that... We're looking at two stages: initially, at the 2010 launch – that's when we'll get all of the buzz and the aid and all the rest of it. That's why we're talking about mass-marketing in 2012, 2013. That's when it becomes a viable, mass business in our business model.Obviously, the global automotive market is in the midst of a massive shift towards environmentally-friendly technologies, and a great deal of the money that's being invested in that space right now goes towards battery development. Says Palmer:
I guess it's fair to say that if we couldn't access government funds in this environment, we'd have to slow down the development because of the enormity of the investments.