2011 Nissan Leaf prototype
Leave it to economies of scale. If Nissan is moving to mass production with one vehicle, and designing its own proprietary battery systems, it makes sense to put it into as many vehicles as possible.
Even as Nissan is taking its LEAF prototype on a cross-country tour, about eleven months ahead of its small-scale U.S. rollout and well over a year ahead of mass-production for this global vehicle, the automaker is already working on its lineup of electric vehicle introductions, post-LEAF.
At this time, Nissan has confirmed a total of four vehicles. But the fourth was news to us. In a briefing sheet for the LEAF, the automaker cites, in addition to the upcoming LEAF, e-LCV van, and Infiniti model, a "new concept" that will make up the fourth entry in the electric family.
Nissan had no additional comment about how soon this vehicle might arrive—even in concept form—but it's now evident that the Nissan brand itself will have three or more EV models in just a few years. And that's before even considering Renault's EVs in the works—as previewed with concepts at this past year's Frankfurt auto show.
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Renault EV Concepts at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show
Here's the Green Car Reports run-down of the tailpipe-free offerings for Nissan and Infiniti:
- Nissan LEAF. The five-door hatchback that TheCarConnection.com recently drove in prototype form. Top speed of 90 mph, driving range of 100 miles. Coming late calendar year 2010 on a limited basis, then mass production the following year.
- Nissan e-LCV. Small cargo MPV, based on the NV200 commercial vehicle. This one will be a rival to the anticipated EV version of the Ford Transit Connect.
- Infiniti premium vehicle. Described as "a compact, luxury high-performance 4-seater," the yet-unnamed EV will most likely be a sport sedan and will have a performance edge and more amenities than the LEAF—sized to rival the Lexus HS 250h—and it might be closely related to the Renault Fluence ZE concept.
- Nissan concept. Based on Nissan's intent to eventually offer a full range of electric alternatives, a mainstream crossover or people-mover.