(Updates with the Ghosn’s comment in second paragraph)
Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Nissan Motor Co., the world’s largest maker of battery-powered cars, expects to sell 1.5 million zero-emission models with partner Renault SA in five years, betting consumers will accept cars that need charging.
“We want to take leadership in these technologies,” Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn told reporters in Yokohama, Japan today. The automaker plans to invest more than 300 billion yen ($3.9 billion) in environmentally friendly technologies by March 31, 2017, he said.
Nissan sold about 15,000 of its Leaf compacts as of this month and is banking on battery-powered cars to help compete with Toyota Motor Corp., maker of the best-selling hybrid Prius since 1997. Toyota plans in January to start selling a plug-in hybrid that can run on batteries charged from an electrical outlet or on the gasoline-fueled engine.
“I understand we were not the first in developing hybrid cars,” Ghosn said. “That’s completely fine, as long as we are the leading company in developing all-electric cars.”
Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan plans to add three all- electric models to the Leaf by 2016 and a plug-in hybrid by 2015.
The auto industry is entering an age of “mega competition” that means carmakers must focus on hybrids and plug-in vehicles, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. President Osamu Masuko said earlier this month. The carmaker, which begins U.S. sales of its “i” battery-powered minicar in 2012, last month said it aims to ship its MINICAB-MiEV to Nissan next fiscal year as the companies expand their alliance.
Nissan rose 0.9 percent to 698 yen as of the close of trading in Tokyo. The shares have dropped 9.7 percent this year, compared with a 14 percent drop for the Nikkei 225 Stock Average.
The carmaker plans to begin making batteries for the Leaf in Smyrna, Tennessee, and Sunderland, England, next year, in Portugal in 2013 and eventually in France as it aims to make 500,000 a year by 2015.
The automaker expects to cut its carbon footprint by 20 percent and improve fuel economy by 35 percent and will introduce a plug-in hybrid model by 2015, according to a statement released today by the Yokohama-based company.
--Editors: Dave McCombs, Chua Kong Ho
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