Nissan launches second electric vehicle, stands by zero-emission technology

YOKOHAMA, Japan, June 9 Mon Jun 9, 2014 4:32am EDT

YOKOHAMA, Japan, June 9 (Reuters) - Japan's Nissan Motor Co said it's launching its second all-electric vehicle this month, persisting with the technology despite a much slower market acceptance than it expected since it rolled out its first electric car over three years ago.

The new vehicle, a commercial van called the e-NV200, will go on sale in Europe this month and in Japan in October, Japan's second biggest-car maker said on Monday. It's the second of four zero-emission electric vehicles that Nissan plans to launch by March 2017, Chief Planning Officer Andy Palmer said, declining to disclose an e-NV200 sales target.

While sales of the Leaf, the electric compact car Nissan launched in December 2010, have grown gradually - last financial year Leaf sales rose 70 percent to 52,000 vehicles - the vehicle has yet to take off in the way Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn predicted.

Though Ghosn set a target for Nissan and French alliance partner Renault SA of selling a total 1.5 million electric vehicles by end-March 2017, consumers have been deterred by concerns partly over driving range and the comparative scarcity of charging stations. Since then he has pushed back the target date by two to three years.

As of end-March, the two companies have so far sold a tenth of that target, totalling 150,000 electric vehicles, with the Leaf accounting for most of that.

"When it comes to zero emissions, we are absolutely religious," Palmer told reporters at Nissan's headquarters in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

The e-NV200 is designed to run for about 190 kilometres on a single battery charge, based on Japanese standards. In France, the vehicle's list price is 20,610 euros ($28,100), dropping to 14,310 euros once a central government subsidy is applied. In Japan it starts at about 3.9 million yen ($38,100), excluding subsidies.

The e-NV200 will be made at Nissan's plant in Barcelona, Spain, with an annual manufacturing capacity of at least 20,000 of the electric vans, said Hideyuki Tateno, a Nissan engineer.

Executive Vice President Takao Katagiri said that Nissan chose to develop an electric commercial van since they are often used for deliveries or businesses that run on set routes and limited distances, removing anxieties over driving range.

($1 = 0.7345 Euros) ($1 = 102.4200 Japanese Yen)

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota and Maki Shiraki; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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