Nissan To Tackle Plug-In Hybrids, Fuel Cells As Well As Electric Cars

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2013 Nissan Leaf (Japanese trim)

2013 Nissan Leaf (Japanese trim)

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Nissan's Leaf is one of the highest-profile electric cars on the market, but the automaker is working on other alternative-propulsion vehicles, too.

According to What Car, Nissan is planning the launch of a plug-in hybrid vehicle within the next two years, and even a hydrogen fuel cell car by 2017.

The plug-in hybrid won't be an all-new vehicle, like the Leaf, but based on an existing model instead.

A recipient in the compact or midsize class is most likely, which suggests that in Europe the Qashqai small crossover is most likely to gain electric assistance, not least as it's the company's highest-selling model. The Qashqai's U.S. equivalent is the Nissan Rogue, but at this stage it would be too early to speculate on U.S. sales.

Even less is known about the fuel cell model, but work on such a vehicle is likely to have gained pace after Daimler, Ford and Renault-Nissan signed a technology development agreement back in January.

The first fruits of this labor are expected by 2017. Nissan's executive vice president for product planning, Andy Palmer, told What Car that the fuel cell vehicle would be based on a new platform not part of the current Nissan lineup.

One has to wonder whether Nissan's decision to diversify has been influenced by sales of the Leaf electric car, which so far have failed to meet Nissan's early expectations.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is still strongly behind the Leaf, and expects sales to improve a little now that both U.S. and European factories are in full swing.

Along with the hydrogen and plug-in options, Ghosn confirmed that Nissan is also working on a city car with partner Renault.

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