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Japan: In Tokyo, Nissan Weighs Three Choices for Next Electric Car


Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn approaches the Nissan Pivo3 electric commuter concept.

The Tokyo Motor Show is known as the global coming-out event for the most improbable concept vehicles. The 2011 show is no exception. As I perused the exhibitions this morning, I quickly dismissed the many outlandish plug-in concepts as eye candy—with just about zero chances of going into production. That is, until I ran into Mark Perry, Nissan’s electric car guy for the Americas, who cautioned me to take another look at the “zero-emissions” concepts on the Nissan stage. “These are not pure design fantasies,” said Mark. “One of these three will definitely go into production, and all of them have an equal chance.”

Mark pointed to these three electric vehicles: the Pivo3, a tiny three-seat urban commuter with crazy pivoting wheels; the Townpod small utility vehicle; and the sleek Esflow electric sports car that promises zero-to-sixty-two in less than five seconds. He turned to me and asked, “Which would you put into production?”

Mark reminded me that Nissan has committed to making and selling four distinct all-electric models, and three of the slots are taken—by the LEAF compact; an upcoming Infiniti mid-size EV; and a small commercial delivery truck. “We’re aiming to have 1.5 million cumulative Nissan electric cars on the road by 2015 or 2016. Which one of these will bring the highest volume?”
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