Japan’s new, tougher emissions reduction goal has worried some carmakers but Nissan Motor’s chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga said his company could achieve the target with its zero-emission strategy centring on electric cars.


Shiga told Kyodo News that, until there are further technological advances in electric vehicles, Nissan would fill the gaps and satisfy the varied needs of each market with petrol-electric hybrids for larger-sized cars and clean diesel engines for long-distance drivers.


The new government of Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama has advocated a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by 2020, compared with 8% in the same time set by the previous administration.


Shiga said: “Voters handed down a victory for the DPJ, which campaigned for the 25% (target) in its manifesto, so we need to carefully discuss how we can achieve it.” He added that the debate should examine the adverse impact on industries as well as the scale of public burden.


In August, Nissan unveiled its fully electric, medium-sized Leaf family sedan which it plans to launch in Japan, the US and Europe in late 2010 and volume produce globally from 2012.


”Unless auto companies have a solution for the environment, they cannot even survive,” Shiga said. ”Nor is there any raison d’etre, that’s how far we have come.”


Shiga said Nissan, which will launch an in house-developed hybrid car in fiscal 2010 (the current Altima hybrid sold in the US uses Toyota electrics), plans to install its hybrid technology in relatively large cars and questioned the benefits of launching hybrids in smaller models which are low priced and fuel efficient to begin with.


”Automakers should not invest in a boom, but ultimately aim to match (their products) with the customers’ values. Instead of EVs and hybrids battling on the same ground, it is better for them to supplement each other to lower the emission of carbon dioxide as a whole,” he added.

Regarding current market conditions, Shiga said recovering demand was likely to drop temporarily once stimulus measures in various countries taper off.


“It is too early to say the (Japanese) economy has recovered,” he said. ”We are very cautious about the outlook.”