3 Aug 2009

Nissan rolls out new electric car

6:34 am on 3 August 2009

Japanese carmaker Nissan has unveiled its first electric car, a hatchback vehicle, called Leaf,

It is set to go on sale in Japan, the United States and Europe next year.

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn did not announce the prices but said it would be "very competitive".

He said the monthly cost of the battery, plus the electric charge, "will be less than the cost of gasoline."

Nissan is Japan's third largest carmaker. The BBC reports it has been slower than Toyota and Honda to embrace hybrids, which run on petrol and electric engines, and is instead pinning its hopes on solely battery-powered cars.

Electric cars have limited battery life and high costs.

But Mr Ghosn insisted that the Leaf would not be a niche-market vehicle.

The company has chosen Britain as one of its bases to produce batteries for electric cars. It is investing £200 million at a factory in Sunderland.

Nissan has said that it plans to make 100,000 electric cars a year by 2012.