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Nissan Leaf looks for help

The new Nissan Leaf electric car was launched at Technology Park in Sydney today.

Showing a prototype of the zero-emissions vehicle – due to go on sale in 2012 – in Sydney today,  Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Dan Thompson was coy about the car’s predicted price but said the federal government's involvement is critical to the financial proposition for the Leaf.

"The Leaf will come with more spec than a low-end small car, for us it's about delivering that with the help of government incentives,” Thompson says.
"The car will come in 2012 – but the biggest task for us is to get much better traction with governments.  "We are working with NSW and Victoria, as well as the other states and the FCAI, but the federal government's support is critical.

"We've had discussions at the federal level, but it's fair to say the states have been much more active in putting the discussions into action," he says.  Nissan Motor Company senior vice-president Andy Palmer is in Australia with the Nissan Leaf electric car – its first appearance in the southern hemisphere – and said the top end of the small car segment price range is where they want to see the car.

"Our intention is basically the car itself is equal in cost to a normal C-segment car like a Tiida, the battery would then be leased, plus the charging cost would be less than the petrol of a normal car," Palmer says.  Palmer is in Australia to highlight the future of electric cars but agrees the company needs the support of government to make it happen.

"To bring the vehicle here en masse we need the support of the federal and regional governments – here we're saying’ all the stars are in the right direction to bring EVs to Australia, now give us a hand’ – we're not making any money on this in the first instance.  "To make it affordable, we want to promote that but that's where we need the help of the government," he said.

Palmer says Australia is well-suited to electric cars if people can make use of an electric vehicle with a range of 160km.  "There are many two-car families, one electric and one internal combustion (in each household) makes sense. A lot of cars here are stored in off-street parking in garages, which makes sense for charging.

"One of the reasons for coming here with the car is to start the dialogue with governments, to make them aware that we have the solution at the vehicle level, now what we need the solution at the level of incentives and at the level of infrastructure," he says.  Nissan cites Ireland and the US as examples of pro-active subsidies for electric car customers, including free installation of the home-charging system to the first 2000 Irish customers, with a 5000 Euro rebate; while the US government has promised a $7500 rebate.

Nissan Leaf electric car

Body: Five-door hatch
Seats:  five.
Range: up to 160km
Powertrain: aminated lithium-ion 48-module (containing 192 cells) battery system.
Outputs: 80kW/280Nm
Charging timer and information available via Bluetooth phone link.
The climate control can be programmed via Bluetooth.
10 minute fast charge can restore up to 50km of range; 30-minute fast-charge can restore 80 per cent of the battery's charge. Charging timer and information available via Bluetooth phone link.

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