Electric cars get sporty…
TOKYO: Nissan said yesterday it would unveil a sporty concept electric vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show as Japan’s number-two carmaker presses on with its bid to tap the burgeoning green-car market.
The company, which has been selling its Leaf electric vehicle since late 2010, said it hoped its Nissan BladeGlider would help it reach a market of male drivers who still want performance and styling in an environmentally friendly car – a major hurdle to widespread commercial sales.
The car, to be unveiled at the biennial Tokyo exhibition later this month, features an aerodynamic design that widens from the front to back with space for a driver in the middle and two passengers in the rear.
The design – one metre in the front and 1.89m at the back and made with lightweight carbon fibres – puts the vehicle’s centre of mass on the rear tires to allow for tighter turns, Nissan said.
“The driver’s seat has been positioned in the middle of the vehicle to give a sense of a pilot in an airborne glider,” Nissan said.
The concept vehicle is squarely aimed at moving into a higher-end electric vehicle market already tapped with some success by US- based Tesla.
This week, Toyota said it planned to unveil its latest fuelcell concept car at the Japanese show, which runs from November 20 to December 1, with an expected commercial rollout two years away.
A total of 177 exhibitors will be at the show, including Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot.
The world’s major carmakers have been working on various green vehicles – from elec- tric cars to zero emission fuelcell models – for a market that still remains tiny.
However demand for loweremission vehicles is forecast to grow, with further technological advances in the field seen as crucial due to toughening emissions standards.
Range, performance, refuelling infrastructure and relatively high prices have proved major hurdles to widespread sales of green vehicles.
Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has been a major promoter of electric cars and vowed to press on despite lacklustre demand so far.
Nissan has invested about $5.4 billion (R54bn) in electric car development in a partnership with French carmaker Renault, which owns more than 40 percent of Nissan. This week, Renault- Nissan announced an electric car tie-up with Mitsubishi. – Sapa-AFP