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Nissan chief still bullish on EVs

New York— Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn is not backing off his prediction that 10 percent of the auto industry’s sales will be electric vehicles by 2020.

“Yes, I still believe they will be 10 percent of the market in 2020, in all the regions where they are available. Yes, I still believe the Renault-Nissan Alliance will sell about 1.5 million cumulative electric vehicles by 2016,” Ghosn said Tuesday on the eve of the press days at the New York International Auto Show. “Given how much our customers like their Leafs, and given how early we are in the sales curve of this new technology, I have zero doubt that zero-emission is here to stay.”

But many other automakers at the New York auto show this week are more skeptical than Ghosn.

Ghosn said that Nissan has sold 27,000 Leafs worldwide over the last 15 months. But the Leaf had another disappointing month in March, selling just 579 vehicles in the United States.

The company has said it plans to double the nearly 10,000 Leafs it sold in 2011 in 2012. It will also unveil an upgraded 2013 Leaf in December when it launches production in Smyrna, Tenn., offering leather seats, fancier interiors and more efficient heating system. Nissan won a $1.4 billion Energy Department low-cost government loan to build up to 150,000 EVs and battery packs in the United States.


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