Green Update–>Nissan’s Rumored Sports Car, Honda and VW Electrics

Infiniti Essence concept

Nissan is a company that doesn’t do things by the book. It has let it be known that it’s going to develop an upmarket version of the Leaf as an Infiniti. Now it tells Edmunds’ Inside Line that Leaf technology will be used to produce an electric, Infiniti-branded sports car.
Nissan LeafThey can base such a car on the 370Z (right) or, just maybe, on the Essence Coupe concept (above). Let’s hope they can use the Essence look and bring it in near the 370Z’s price. That would indeed be rewriting the book.

Autoblog thinks Nissan might use the Leaf platform and move the motor to the rear, keeping much of the rest of the Leaf hardware. Creative thinking, boys! If the Leaf is as good as the buzz has it, well, why not give Tesla’s Roadster a run for the money?—at a lower price, we would hope.

Honda and Volkswagen both have let it be known that they intend to be big players in the electric marketplace, even if Honda has lagged. The company’s president, Takanobu Ito, couldn’t help but be aware of the sagging reputation of Honda as he announced that a new electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid would come online in 2012 in the U.S. and Japan.

“Honda has no future unless we achieve significant reduction in CO2 emissions,” he told reporters. “The next 10 years will be a true test for Honda’s survival.”

Coming up with good cars quickly and at affordable prices is now crucial to scoring success in changing times, Ito said.

The Nikkei (via Reuters) reported that the company may build these vehicles in the U.S. as well as in Japan and possibly expand its hybrid line to “five or so” by 2013. Good luck, Mr. Ito, you will have plenty of competition.

Volkswagen LupoSome of that will come from Volkswagen, also determined to be a dominant electro-player, as proclaimed by CEO Martin Winterkorn. As you may have heard, he wants VW to be the world’s biggest auto company, and remarked yesterday: “I am deeply convinced Volkswagen will play a key role in electrifying the automotive world.”

VW has for years been a leader in producing clean diesels and efficient gas engines. Now they are forging ahead with: the Touareg hybrid; a Jetta hybrid for 2012; a Passat hybrid in 2013; and the E-Golf hybrid (blue-e-motion) and the E-Up!, also in 2013. One of the latter two will be VW’s first full-electric vehicle in the U.S.

The E-Up! minicar (above right), incidentally, has been rechristened (thank God) the Lupo and will come alive in Europe next year with a choice of several engines. A five-door hatchback version will arrive in spring 2012.

VW is clearly on a roll, and we haven’t even talked about the Audi and Porsche hybrids and electrics. Will they dominate in electrics by 2012?

—jgoods

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