Nissan Relies On Subsidies For EV Profitability; Releases First EV Teaser

July 28, 2009
Teaser image of Nissan EV

Teaser image of Nissan EV

Nissan has garnered a lot of headlines in the past few months -- largely because of its buzz-worthy EV project. You might recall that Nissan recently received a $1.6 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, which the company will use to ready its factory in Smyrna, Tennessee for production of Nissan's electric vehicle lineup. Improvements like that are of primary importance to the company as it prepares to fill dealerships around the world with 350,000 EVs each year -- 200,000 of which will be built in the U.S.A., with the remainder split between Europe (100,000) and Japan (50,000).

Though Nissan's DOE funds will eventually have to be repaid, for the time-being they allow the company to shift monies that might've been used for facility enhancement into new models and new technology. As Tokyo-based auto analyst Yasuaki Iwamoto said, "Without government aid, the business [of electric vehicles] would be unrealistic.... The support helps with the high cost of developing the batteries." And the cost of batteries, of course, is among the most expensive elements of EV production -- and what has, to date, prevented electrics from being affordable to mass market shoppers.

The first of Nissan's EVs is set to launch this Sunday, August 2, at the company's new headquarters in Yokohama, Japan. Based on the same platform as the Nissan Versa, it's said to hold up to five passengers and be capable of 100 miles of driving before needing a recharge. Its 24kWh lithium-ion batteries take about eight hours to charge via a 200v outlet, although that time is clipped to 30 minutes at a fast-charge station.

At Nissan's new EV microsite, the company has unveiled a sneak-peek clip of its first electric vehicle.  Unfortunately, it appears that the video has been removed for the moment, but based on screenshots (one of which is above), the EV's silhouette may end up looking more like boxy Tata Nano than the slightly more elongated Versa. We'll know for sure in a few days.

[Bloomberg, WorldCarFans]

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