December 12, 2012 / 3:30 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Nissan to extend line-up of hybrids, electric vehicles

* To sell Infiniti electric vehicle in 2014, launch 4th EV in 2016

* Targets bringing 15 new hybrids to market by 2017

* Nissan’s Leaf EV has been criticized in US for battery capacity

TOKYO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co said it will extend its offering of hybrids with 15 new models by 2017 and introduce new electric vehicles, as Japan’s No. 2 automaker looks to move ahead of its competitors in low- and zero-emission cars.

The company announced on Wednesday it will sell an electric version of its Infiniti luxury car in 2014, with a fourth model coming in 2016.

Nissan’s latest push away from gasoline engines comes as it struggles to sell its Leaf electric car in the United States as EVs by it and other makers, including General Motors Co’s Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, fall short of consumer expectations.

Introduced in 2010, the Leaf has run up against complaints in the United States, where some drivers have said the vehicle’s battery capacity shrinks too quickly.

Winning customers over to its hybrids and EVs in the United States may help shield Nissan from any downturn in sales in China, where it is more exposed than home rivals Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co.

Nissan last month cut its full-year net profit forecast by 20 percent after car sales in China tumbled amid anti-Japanese protests over a territorial dispute.

The company’s shares gained 0.9 percent in Tokyo on Wednesday, compared with a 0.5 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei 225 index.

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