Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said Wednesday his company is working hard to develop the next generation of smaller, lighter auto batteries — a technology that holds promise not just for hybrids but also for electric cars.
Automakers are racing to develop viable lithium ion batteries, which are common in gadgets such as laptops and cell phones but have yet to be fully adapted to the more rigorous demands of a car engine.
Nissan, which has fallen behind rivals such as Toyota and Honda in hybrid vehicles, recently opened a new tech center in Japan dedicated to developing green technologies. Nissan Motor Co. introduced a hybrid vehicle last year, but licenses the technology from Toyota.
Ghosn believes that Nissan's investment in new technologies will help it narrow the gap or even put it ahead of competitors down the road.
"We continue on the lithium ion battery. We think for us it's a competitive advantage," he told reporters during a press conference in Bangkok. "We have a lot of technology is this area, and we think this is going to be very helpful, not only for hybrids but also for electric cars."
While consumer interest has surged in gas-and-electric hybrid cars due to higher fuel prices and global warming, Ghosn said Nissan was serious about going one step further and introducing vehicles powered only by electricity, the AP reports.
The carmaker didn't introduce any Nissan-brand vehicles for 15 months and went 18 months without any new Infiniti-brand models in the U.S., its most profitable market. During that period, Toyota released the fully redesigned Camry sedan and Yaris compact car, while Honda introduced revamped CR-V and Acura MDX sport-utility vehicles in the U.S.
Ghosn said Nissan will consider introducing a car priced as low as $3,000 depending on the success of similar low-cost models planned by companies including Tata Motors Ltd. The Indian carmaker plans to introduce a car priced as low as 100,000 rupees ($2,500) next year, which will make it the nation's cheapest automobile, Bloomberg reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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