Nissan defends electric vehicles after critical report

Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn poses with the automaker's new electronic vehicle, the Leaf, during an opening ceremony of the company's new headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009. It was the first time the external design was shown of Nissan Motor Co.'s environmentally friendly automobile, set to go on sale in Japan, the U.S. and Europe next year. Nissan has promised that the Leaf, which goes into mass-production as a global model in 2012, will be about the same price as a gas-engine car such as the 1.5 million yen ($15,000) Tiida, which sells abroad as the Versa, starting at about $10,000. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn poses with the automaker's new electronic vehicle, the Leaf, during an opening ceremony of the company's new headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009. It was the first time the external design was shown of Nissan Motor Co.'s environmentally friendly automobile, set to go on sale in Japan, the U.S. and Europe next year. Nissan has promised that the Leaf, which goes into mass-production as a global model in 2012, will be about the same price as a gas-engine car such as the 1.5 million yen ($15,000) Tiida, which sells abroad as the Versa, starting at about $10,000. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

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NISSAN has hit back at claims electric vehicles have failed to spark the public imagination.

Financial services specialist KPMG says concerns around the cost of running and maintaining the vehicles are proving too high a risk for cash-strapped buyers.

The firm’s International Global Automotive Executive Survey, which surveyed 200 auto executives from 31 countries, found the cost of batteries and recharging was a major barrier to those considering electric vehicles.

Ninety-two per cent of respondents said fuel efficiency for cost reasons was the primary factor in deciding what car to buy.

Environmental concerns such as reducing CO2 emissions remain important to the consumer, but slipped from second place to fourth this year.

John Leech, KPMG’s UK head of automotive, said: “The changing views on pure hybrids, plug-ins, fuel cell and battery-powered vehicles reflect the uncertainty as to which will be the dominant technology.

“In the short term, the individual driver is likely to prefer a hybrid, whereas urban fleets may opt for electric cars.

“However, it seems pure electric vehicles will not prevail, at least in the next decade.”

Nissan will begin building the all-electric Leaf at its Sunderland plant this year and bosses today hit back at the survey.

A spokesman said: “Battery electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, are the only zero emission vehicles available today and that will remain true for many years to come.

“In order to keep our society cleaner and greener, Nissan is strongly committed to fostering zero-emissions mobility and is a leader in electric vehicles, with almost 50,000 sales of the all-electric Nissan Leaf globally.

“The global electric vehicle market is continuing to progress, with key conditions including public charging infrastructure, government incentives, consumer acceptance and the economic benefits undergoing continuous significant improvement.

“We remain confident about future growth of the electric vehicle market.”

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