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April 8, 2010

CHINA: Nissan plans Leaf launch in 2011

Nissan's Leaf electric car will go on sale in China early next year but it will be some time before the company starts to build the car in the country, Tsunehiko Nakagawa, vice president of Nissan China Investment, told the Reuters news agency.

Nissan’s Leaf electric car will go on sale in China early next year but it will be some time before the company starts to build the car in the country, Tsunehiko Nakagawa, vice president of Nissan China Investment, told the Reuters news agency.

Nakagawa, speaking on the sidelines of a conference, added that he also expects Nissan’s up-market Infiniti brand to start selling hybrid models in China within two to three years.

Nissan and its alliance partner Renault are pioneering the sale of EVs and last month teamed up with the local government in Wuhan to promote zero-emission vehicles in the central Chinese city following a similar initial pact with the municipal government of Guangzhou in the south in late 2009.

“We will target the Leaf at institutional bodies like local governments initially,” Nakagawa said.

He did not provide a specific annual sales target for Leaf but said he hoped to sell “several hundred” models.

Nissan, which will begin building the Leaf at its Sunderland plant in Britain from early 2013, however, does not have a timetable for making the compact model in China where it runs a manufacturing venture with Dongfeng Motor Group.

“We want to make Leaf in China as soon as possible, but the key issue to the decision is the sales volume,” Nakagawa said.

The Chinese government has promised subsidies for buyers of EVs in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chongqing and is currently running a pilot scheme in 13 cities where it is subsidising clean-energy public transport vehicles.

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