The push to zero-emission vehicles is inevitable, a senior Nissan executive declared during a visit to Detroit, on Monday, just weeks before the maker formally launches sales of its first mass-market battery-electric vehicle, the 2011 Nissan Leaf.
By 2020, forecast Carlos Tavares, executive vice president of Nissan in America, pure battery-electric vehicles, like the Leaf, will account for 10% of worldwide vehicle sales. Considering global volumes are expected to reach perhaps 65 to 70 million by the end of the decade, that would mean sales of perhaps 7 million BEVs annually – a figure significantly in excess of what many other industry leaders are projecting.
“You won’t be surprised if we disagree,” Tavares said, referring to several recent surveys that took a more pessimistic view of the potential market for battery power.
One of the most widely quoted, J.D. Power and Associates’ new Drive Green study, predicts all forms of battery propulsion, including conventional hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electrics, will generate just 7.3% of global sales by 202, with BEVs accounting for barely a third of the overall market. (Click Here for that story.)
While Tavares said Nissan is aware of the “tough challenges,” he argued that there is now a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to bring pure electric propulsion into the mainstream. But critical to achieving that goal are factors that include:
- The development of better, lower-cost batteries;
- The creation of a smart infrastructure to handle the switch and manage the distribution of electric power; and
- The establishment of a nationwide network of public charging stations.