Nissan has almost 20,000 orders already for its new Leaf EV, equivalent to the first year of production, CEO Carlos Ghosn told reporters in Detroit.

"We have 13,000 orders in the US and 6,000 orders in Japan," he said, adding that all of the US orders had come from individuals and not from government while some orders in Japan were for municipal fleets.

"I don't think we're going to have a problem marketing and selling these cars for the first two or three years."

The first deliveries are set for December in the US and Japan when it will also become available in Portugal and the Netherlands before going on sale in Britain and Ireland early next year.

Nissan is being particularly bullish about EV sales, saying that they will account for 10% of global car sales by 2020. Other car makers and observers predict EV sales will account for between 2-5% of total sales by then.

Ghosn also predicted the auto industry would continue to consolidate, but with a bias in favor of alliances and joint ventures rather than acquisitions.

"Every car manufacturer has to develop very different technologies" for electric, hybrid, gasoline and diesel cars.

"These technologies are so expensive no manufacturer can afford to develop each of these technologies," he said.

Carmakers must address multiple market segments to succeed in the current market conditions, he said.

"You can’t be a niche brand. You have to be present in the upper segment and the lower segment, and the crossover segment and the four-by-four segment," he said.