Nissan Motor has lowered its sales forecast for the US market from 15.5m vehicles to 15.2m for its current fiscal year, which began on 1 April .

The Associated Press (AP) said some automakers have predicted a US rebound in the second half of this year thanks to federal stimulus cheques and lower interest rates.

But Nissan North America senior vice president Dominique Thormann told the news agency any rebound likely would be limited, adding that the Japanese automaker is predicting a depressed industry into 2009.

Thormann also confirmed Nissan plans to have electric vehicles in the US by 2010, AP added.

Other sources have reported that Nissan will initially lease its new EVs to selected fleet customers and roll them out for general public sale a year or two later.

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Such selective new technology roll-outs are not uncommon in the auto industry – when Mercedes launched its new E320 Bluetec 50-state-compliant’clean’ diesel in the US last October, it initially restricted sales to California customers and then only on a two-year/24,000-mile lease.

Toyota initially launched its Prius hybrid in Japan in 1997 but did not start exports -­ initially to the US and Europe – until the 2000 model year.

US light vehicle market headed under 15m – JD Power