There has been debate as to what is the next best propulsion technology for mass adoption. For years the hydrogen economy was touted and most automakers have been developing hydrogen fuel cell programs. Recently, GM and Honda have put hydrogen fuel cell cars on US roads and in customers hands, albeit in small numbers.
However, recent explosive interest in lithium-ion technology threatens to supplant the "hydrogen highway" in favor of pure electric and extended-range electric cars.
French automaker Renault-Nissan has just confirmed that the company will be shifting all R&D funds from hybrid and hydrogen cars to electric car development according to COO Patrick Pelata.
In fact he expects one third of the company's line up to be electric within a decade. He noted they will have three electric models out by 2011 including a van and a five-seat hatchback. These cars will use NEC lithium ion batteries and have at least 100 mile ranges.
Renault/Nissan favors the idea of leasing the batteries and swapping them in charging stations developed by Better Place.
Furthermore CEO Carlos Ghosen also announced that Renault/Nissan will begin testing pure EVs later this year. He said "the conditions for electric cars to exist have finally been met,"and "We're testing an EV model this year. It's able to run for 160 km (100 miles), even with the A/C and the radio at full blast."