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Nissan to broaden eco-car lineup with new electrics, hybrid

The Nissan Leaf electric car has been a hit.

TOKYO -- Nissan Motor will release two new electric vehicles and add a hybrid version of its mainstay compact as early as fiscal 2016, aiming to broaden its selection of environmentally friendly vehicles.

     The Japanese company is the top automaker in electric-vehicle sales by volume, having moved more than 150,000 units of the Leaf worldwide since its 2010 release.

     The Leaf is Nissan's sole electric passenger vehicle. The automaker plans to roll out a successor with a longer range than the existing Leaf's 228km per charge and a price under 2.87 million yen ($23,600).

     Nissan is also developing another electric vehicle with Mitsubishi Motors. This minivehicle-based offering will have a shorter range than today's Leaf but will likely be priced around 1.5 million yen.

     An electric vehicle needs about 300 yen worth of electricity to travel 200km. The cost is about a quarter the price of gasoline needed to drive the same distance.

     But 200km is just about as far as an electric car can go on a charge -- a range much shorter than the 700km of its gasoline counterpart. The limited range and relatively high prices have been challenges for electric vehicles.

     Separately, Nissan will add a hybrid version of its most popular model, the Note, whose domestic sales came to 135,000 units in fiscal 2013.

     The automaker has until now limited its hybrids to four relatively high-end models, including the Fuga and the Skyline. It has not offered any reasonably priced hybrids, allowing Toyota Motor to take the lead with the Prius and the Aqua.

     As emissions regulations tighten worldwide, automakers are taking different approaches to enhancing their eco-car lineups.

     Toyota and Honda Motor are positioning fuel cell cars as key green vehicles, with Toyota releasing the Mirai last month and Honda moving to roll out its own fuel cell car in fiscal 2015.

     Nissan and Volkswagen, on the other hand, have positioned electric vehicles as key offerings.

(Nikkei)

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