Nissan Motor Develops Prototype Electric Car

Company plans to start selling car in the U.S. by 2010.

Nissan Motor Co. unveiled a new prototype electric vehicle Aug. 6 with batteries twice as powerful as conventional technology, aiming to take a lead in zero-emission cars.

Japan's third-largest automaker said the front-wheel-drive, boxy-shaped car has a newly developed 80-kilowatt motor with advanced lithium-ion batteries installed under the vehicle's floor to avoid taking up space.

The laminated batteries, jointly developed with electronics giant NEC Corp., pack twice the electric power of conventional nickel-metal hydride batteries currently used in hybrid and electric cars, it said.

Nissan aims to start selling an electric car in the United States and Japan in 2010 and the rest of the world in 2012. It will have a new "unique bodystyle" that is not based on any existing model, the company said.

Nissan has been slower than rivals Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. to embrace petrol-electric hybrids, but it aims to become the industry leader in electric vehicles.

Such cars have so far failed to break into the mainstream, partly because of their limited battery life.

Nissan is also developing hydrogen fuel-cell cars as well as its own hybrid system, betting that zero-emission vehicles will take a 15% share of the global auto market in the future.

The company also unveiled a prototype hybrid, which will also be launched in the U.S. and Japan in 2010, as well as a slimmer fuel-cell stack with double the power density of previous ones and 35% lower costs.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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