It is coming, it is close and they know how to tell the story: ambitions will match the budget and geopolitical implications will make the money flow - the bottleneck will be where you can not print it: Lithium and REE will be among strategic class of commodities like oil now.
"Stratfor raises a very serious question: in green economy of the 21st century Lithium and REE become strategic commodities. We have wrote before about "Lithium in the Core of "The Next 100 Years", now it is time to invest in secured Lithium supply in North America."
By Chuck Squatriglia
November 13, 2009
Categories: EVs and Hybrids
LOS ANGELES — Nissan’s big bet on electric vehicles rolled silently into Dodger Stadium today, the first stop on the Japanese automaker’s nationwide tour to spread the EV gospel.
Company CEO Carlos Ghosn is among the industry’s loudest EV evangelists, and he firmly believes the four-door, five passenger Nissan Leaf will usher in the era of cleaner, greener motoring when it goes on sale late next year. Nissan joins General Motors and other automakers in promising to bring us electric cars within the next year or so, and the Leaf is slated to hit the market at the same time as the Chevrolet Volt. Ghosn said consumers are itching for affordable, attractive cars with cords and he boldly predicts such automobiles will comprise 10 percent of the market within 10 years.
“People are looking to us for a solution,” Ghosn said. “If we bring an electric car to market at the same price as a conventional car and we can prove battery lease and energy costs are cheaper than gasoline, I think we’ll have a hit.”
That’s right. You’ll own the car. Nissan will own the battery.
Ghosn said leasing the batteries — which Nissan will produce through a joint venture with NEC — provides several benefits. First and foremost, it keeps the cost of the car reasonable. Although automakers don’t discuss what their batteries cost, they are widely believed to run $500 to $1,000 per kilowatt-hour. The Leaf sports a 24 kilowatt-hour lithium manganese battery.
By retaining ownership of the battery, Nissan also can update them as technology advances so consumers aren’t left with “last year’s model.” And though Ghosn didn’t mention it, leasing provides Nissan with some cover should the battery wear out prematurely because it can just replace the pack.
“You don’t worry about the battery,” Ghosn said. “We worry about the battery.”
The Leaf’s air-cooled battery provides enough juice to go 100 miles in city traffic. Nissan isn’t releasing any performance or technical specs for the car because the drivetrain is still under development. But Larry Dominique, v.p. of advanced planning and strategy, said the Leaf will do zero to 60 “in less than 10 seconds.” That would make it faster than the Nissan Versa. Top speed is 90 mph.
Plug the car into a 110-volt socket and you’ll need 14 to 16 hours to recharge it. A 220-volt 20-amp line cuts that to seven or eight hours, while a 440-volt “quick charge” station, if and when they appear, will get you to an 80 percent state of charge in 25 minutes, Dominique said.
The Leaf is based on a heavily modified version of the platform underpinning the Versa, and the two cars bear more than a passing resemblance. The Leaf is vaguely futuristic with its aquiline headlamps, sharply raked windshield and sweeping lines. But the rear end is a bit bulbous and one person said the front end looks like a catfish.
Be that as it may, what you see is what you get. Dominique said the design is “locked in,” meaning no further revisions beyond details like wheels and the like are planned. Nissan already is developing the tooling for the body panels. As for the rest of the car, Dominique said it’s almost ready for production.
“We’re probably 80 or 90 percent there,” he said.
Nissan plans to offer the car for “between $26,000 and $33,000″ when it goes on sale in December, 2010. Although Dominique wouldn’t say how many Leafs the company plans to produce, Ghosn has repeatedly said it will be a mass-market car, not a niche vehicle. Nissan’s plant in Oppama, Japan has the capacity to crank out 50,000 Leaf cars annually, and Nissan is using a $1.6 billion federal loan to build an EV and battery plant at its North American headquarters in Smyrna, Tennessee. When the factory opens in 2012, it will be able to produce 150,000 electric cars and 200,000 battery packs annually.
Some may question whether there is that much demand for electric cars, but Ghosn has no doubt there is. He said Nissan’s research has shown 8 percent of Americans and 9 percent of Europeans are “hand raisers” who say their next car will be electric — despite the fact the first mainstream EVs aren’t expected for another year.
“I think I’m being conservative saying 10 percent,” Ghosn said. “People will say ‘You’re being too bullish.’ But I think that underestimates people’s concern for the environment.”
Paul Scott, a founder of the EV advocacy group Plug-In America, thinks Ghosn is underestimating the market demand.
“I think he’s being conservative,” Scott said. “It’s conservative because the technology is that good. Once people experience these cars, the rate of adoption will accelerate.”
Chris Paine, director of the film Who Killed The Electric Car?, agreed. A growing number of people, particularly young adults, are increasingly concerned about the environment and the economic and geopolitical implications of petroleum, he said. They’re ready for an alternative.
“People understand internal combustion doesn’t have to be the future,” Paine said. “If [Nissan] can deliver a clean car at the same price as a conventional car, people will buy it.”
Photos of the Nissan Leaf’s North American debut in Los Angeles: Bob Peterson."