Nissan Motor president Carlos Ghosn thinks his company’s electric vehicles can survive and be competitive even after the expiry of government incentives for fuel-efficient cars this year if the company reaches an annual production and sales target of 500,000 units.

Nissan is soon to launch the purpose-built Leaf five-door EV which will eventually be rolled out worldwide after initial launches in Japan, the US, Europe and other selected markets.

”Our intention is for maybe two years (to) have government incentives and then when we reach a reasonable scale level…of about 500,000 cars a year, we will have the base to cut costs significantly in order for the consumer not to need any more the support from the government,” Ghosn said in an interview with Japanese media at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama, Reuters reported.

Recent recovery in vehicle demand had largely been sustained by government tax breaks and subsidies after Nissan and other major Japanese automakers suffered steep losses in profits in fiscal 2008 that ended March 2009.

Ghosn said he does not see such government incentives driving customer demand for long, saying they acted as an ”initial push” to spur consumers to buy electric cars, as Nissan continues its path to be a market leader in zero-emission vehicles.

He emphasized the need to boost EV output by increasing production of their batteries, leading to reduced costs and more affordable cars.

If reelected Nissan’s president when his term ends in June 2011, Ghosn said one of his key goals during the next four-year mandate would be to ensure the ”successful mass [marketing] of zero-emission cars” and take further steps for Nissan’s ”complete recovery.”

For the current fiscal year, Nissan has said it is banking on its new car lineup, including the December Leaf launch in Japan, the United States and Europe, coupled with anticipated sales in emerging markets including China, to be key drivers of better business performance, Reuters noted.