Posted by: David Welch on April 8, 2009
Ready or not, here come the electric cars. Nissan Motor has said that it will build an electric car in 2010, and the company has several more coming after that. In fact, Nissan and partner NEC are tooling up a plant to make enough battery packs for 53,000 electric cars a year in the next decade, Nissan North American Executive Vice President Carlos Tavares told me at the New York Auto Show. “One day zero-emission vehicles will be the cost of entry,” Tavares said.
One day, maybe. But right now with gasoline being so cheap in the U.S., hybrids and other thrifty models aren’t selling so well. Even though Nissan can make more than 50,000 EVs a year, the company has no idea how many it can actually sell. “What sales will be, I don’t know,” Tavares said. “It depends on the consumer.”
That’s the tough quandary carmakers are in. They have to invest in fuel economy, hybrids and advanced electric batteries. But no one really knows how well the cars will sell. But Tavares says all carmakers have to push ahead with the technology to meet future fuel economy regulations and because eventually there will be demand for efficiency. A global recession has pushed oil prices down. “When the economy comes back, oil prices will rise again,” he said. Maybe then, green will be red hot.