WASHINGTON (AFP) – Japanese automaker Nissan is dismissing speculation that it intends to scale back electric car battery production at its US plant in Tennessee.
Nissan’s ambitious electric vehicle programme has been a signature initiative of Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive at both Renault and Nissan.
“The Renault-Nissan Alliance remains 100 per cent committed to its industry-leading EV programme,” spokesman Travis Parman said in a statement.
“This global commitment continues for the foreseeable future, and we have not taken any decision whatsoever to modify battery sourcing allocation.”
Parman said Nissan has no plans to “impair” its battery investments in the United States or Britain.
His comments came after media reports suggested that the Renault-Nissan alliance was re-evaluating its battery strategy.
The proposal under consideration includes curtailing production at Nissan-operated battery plants in England and the United States in order to instead purchase electric vehicle batteries from the Korean company LG Chem.
The speculation about Nissan’s cutbacks circulated as Tesla, the electric vehicle maker based in Palo Alto, outside San Francisco, joins with Panasonic to build a new $5 billion battery factory in Nevada set to build 500,000 batteries a year by 2020.
Tesla currently sells about 1,500 vehicles per month but has new smaller, less expensive models on the drawing board, according to the company’s founder billionaire Elon Musk.
Parman noted the Nissan Leaf is the best-selling electric vehicle in the US, having set records for 18 consecutive months. Leaf sales are up 34 per cent through August. In addition, electric-powered Leaf sales have topped 3,000 units in three of the last four months, Parman said.
Nissan is promoting the Leaf through a “No Charge to Charge” incentive offering two years of no-cost charging to new Leaf buyers, in 11 key markets around the US such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
Nissan has helped install more than 650 quick chargers in markets across the US, and Nissan is working with partners on 500 additional chargers over the next year, Parman said.
Nissan has also announced plans for introducing for a battery electric cargo van in the US.