August 2 will be a big day for Nissan.
That’s the day Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn will unveil the first of three new electric vehicles intended for mass production and public sale by 2013.
These won’t be hybrid cars… these are pure electrics. They will span three different vehicle segments, so I’m thinking something along the lines of a sports car, a family sedan, and a crossover SUV.
The thing is, it’s a huge gamble for Nissan. While competitors milk the hybrid market for all it’s got, Nissan is the first major automaker to announce such ambitious EV plans.
Nissan’s plan includes a new lithium ion battery plant and an electric-vehicle assembly line that Nissan will build at its Smyrna, Tenn., manufacturing complex. That complex will have the capacity to build 150,000 EVs per year. The question is: If they build them, will people buy them?
Gas prices could fall to the $2 per gallon level again. Batteries are expensive, and the question of their long-term reliability is a major issue. Then there’s this:
Nissan hopes to sell these cars at the price of a comparable “normal” car. Sounds great, until you find out that price doesn’t include batteries. Those will be leased to customers, at a cost comparable to what they would have had to spend on gasoline.
So at the end of the day, a huge selling point for EVs – saving money on gas – won’t apply. The only thing people will save is the atmosphere, but I’m pretty sure most of us right now would rather save the money in our wallets.
Would you buy an electric vehicle if it wouldn’t save you any money?