The state of Tennessee – home to Nissan’s first car ‘transplant’ factory 15 years ago, and where it now has its US headquarters – would be one of the first locations where it would sell its new all-electric car, with a 100-mile (160km) battery range, after it arrives in late 2010, a top official at the automaker has said.

Nissan eventually would like to make the car and its batteries at the factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, and the Chattanooga area was in line for electric refuelling infrastructure for the new vehicle, Mark Perry, director of product planning and strategy for Nissan North America, told the Chattanooga Engineers Club.

“Tennessee will be a launch market,” said Perry, also mentioning Oregon and Sonoma County, California.

The car would seat five and be in the size range of a Sentra or Versa [Tiida], he said, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

“It will have 100 miles of pure battery range,” Perry said, noting that Toyota’s 2010 Prius hybrid electric gets about 10 miles range on pure battery while the planned Chevy Volt will get 40.

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Perry also said the Nissan, running on a lithium ion battery pack, won’t be a test model.

“We’re ready to go mass production and mass sales,” he said.

He said that while the cost for a conventional vehicle of similar size may range from US$28,000 to $30,000, the federal government is offering a tax credit of up to $7,500 on the electric. There also will be other steps to lower the buyer’s initial costs.

He said maintenance costs would be about $1,350 lower annually for the pure electric vehicle than a conventional car.

“The pay back is immediate,” Perry told the gathering. He estimated the cost to “fill the tank” in the Tennessee Valley at about 90 cents, and it would take about four to eight hours to do so at a residence though there were plans to reduce that to four hours in 2012.

Chattanooga Advanced Transportation Technology Institute director Jim Frierson told the paper Nissan’s plans were “music to our ears” adding the drive for putting electric vehicles on the road is “the space race of the decade.”

In terms of recharging infrastructure, plans were to start in the Nashville-Murfreesboro-Franklin area – Nissan’s USA headquarters are located in Franklin.

While the car would be made in Japan at first, Perry told the paper the company liked to produce vehicles where they’re bought.