Nissan Aims to Make Batteries 'Core Business'

Ghosn says the battery is going to be an 'essential piece of technology for our century.'

Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn said on Oct. 19 that his company plans to make rechargeable batteries for electric cars one of its key businesses.

"We are ready to sell the battery to whoever is interested," he said. "We are making it a core business, because we think that the battery is going to be an essential piece of technology for our century."

"The electric car is going to be a long-term bet, a long-term investment," Ghosn told a news conference ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show, which begins on Oct. 21 and opens to the public on Oct. 24.

"If you want to go for the electric car, or even for the fuel-cell car, the heart of the system is the battery," Ghosn said.

Nissan, Japan's third largest automaker, plans to launch its first electric car, the Leaf, in late 2010. Billed as "the world's first affordable, zero-emission car," the mid-sized hatchback can travel more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) on a single charge, at a top speed of 140 kilometers per hour, according to the company.

Nissan says it plans to sell the Leaf at a similar price to a comparable model with a petrol-powered engine.

The battery will be leased separately for a monthly charge that, together with the electricity cost, will be cheaper than gasoline, it says.

"Engineering wise, architecture wise, there is no reason for the electric car to be more expensive than a normal car," said Ghosn. "The only reason is that we are not as familiar with the technology of the electric car as we are with the combustion engine, and we don't have the same scale" of production, he said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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