Tim O'Brien | May 28, 2009

Not this car and not this style: Nissan’s EV will be all-new.

NEWS FROM NISSAN Motor Co in Japan is that Nissan will be heading into new territory with the design of its upcoming electric vehicle. Instead of a slab-sided hybrid look, Nissan’s all-electric warrior will instead feature bold new “flowing” lines.

This suggests that earlier reports are incorrect that Nissan’s first all-electric vehicle would be based on its eponymous Cube – campaigned as the EV-02.

Nissan Australia Corporate Communications Manager Jeff Fisher confirmed to The Motor Report that the all-electric Nissan EV will be in Australia in 2012. “Yes, it’s part of our product plan. It will be available next year in the US and we expect it to have it here in 2012.”

nissan_ev-02_02

“The first car will be a five-seater family hatch, with small crossovers and commercials to follow. A concept version will be unveiled in the US in August this year,” Mr Fisher said.

Nissan’s EV, like the EV-02 prototype, will use ‘laminated lithium ion’ battery technology, developed by Nissan in partnership with semiconductor manufacturer, NEC. While half the size and weight of a conventional lithium ion battery, Nissan claims it will produce twice the power and twice the driving range before recharging.

This will give the all-electric EV a range of around 160 kilometres between charges.

That news will be warmly greeted by Better Place (Australia), who is teaming up with AGL Energy and the Macquarie Capital Group to plan a network of ‘recharging stations’ in Australia for the electric-vehicle age approaching.

nissan_ev-02_03

So, how different will Nissan’s new EV be? It will look nothing like a hybrid according to Nissan Design Chief Shiro Nakamura. "We need some kind of difference so that when people see our car, they will realize this is an EV, not a hybrid," he told respected US industry publication, Automotive News.

According to Automotive News, the new car’s styling will have a low bonnet with no grille - none is needed with an all-electric drive-train - and a “profile that is flowing, instead of triangular”. (We’ve been scouring news sources in Japan and the US for images, but Nissan appears to be running a tight ship – nothing has escaped, yet.)

While Nissan also has plans for a ‘conventional’ hybrid – reportedly a ‘plug-in’ hybrid like GM’s Volt - it sees all-electric vehicles as the best way to achieve the tough emissions requirements to be placed on US automakers.

nissan_ev-02_04

Things are moving apace there. The US city of Seattle is partnering with Nissan North America for the development of an electric vehicle charging network. In the past two months Nissan US has announced similar partnerships in Tennessee (where the vehicle will likely be manufactured), Oregon, San Diego in California, Arizona, and in North Carolina, to establish corridors of electric charging stations.

This is not dissimilar to Better Place’s infrastructure plans for Australia.

And now, in breaking news, Nissan has announced a unique alliance with car rental firm, Europcar, to market electric vehicles to rental consumers across Europe. This is expected to extend to the US and in time to Australia and New Zealand.

While too early to comment on the Europcar alliance, Nissan Australia had “begun infrastructure exploratory talks with the City of Sydney and with (NSW Premier) Nathan Rees on what a roll-out of infrastructure might look like,” Jeff Fisher told The Motor Report.

“We are also talking to the City of Melbourne. This needs to move relatively quickly; 2012 is not that far away.

Having the right infrastructure in place, as well as strong product offerings, will be a key confidence factor in winning consumers over to these vehicles,” Mr Fisher said.

This is a story that will be gaining pace in the next 12 months. We will keep you updated.

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