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Nissan Motor Co. will launch a new version of its all-electric vehicle Leaf in seven markets in Asia-Pacific, and explore bringing it to two more, in its latest push to boost sales of electric vehicles.
Nissan, Japan’s second-largest automaker, will launch the model in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand during the next fiscal year, and also explore introducing it in Indonesia and the Philippines.
The company is also looking at introducing its e-POWER gasoline hybrid technology to Southeast Asia. Introduced by Nissan in November 2016, e-POWER adds a small gasoline engine to charge the high-output battery when necessary, eliminating the need for an external charger while offering the same high-output.
The e-POWER system features full electric-motor drive, meaning that the wheels are completely driven by the electric motor. The power from a high-output battery is delivered to the e-POWER’s compact powertrain comprised of a gasoline engine, power generator, inverter and a motor. In conventional hybrid systems, a low-output electric motor is mated to a gasoline engine to drive the wheels when the battery is low (or when traveling at high speeds). However, in the e-POWER system, the gasoline engine is not connected to the wheels; it simply charges the battery. And unlike a full EV, the power source originates from the engine and not just the battery.
Nissan’s e-POWER gasoline hybrid technology is a good bridge to attract car buyers to try electric vehicles as it provides the experience of driving an electric car, but without requiring electric charging stations, said Yutaka Sanada, Nissan’s regional head.
Pure electric cars are not yet widely available in Southeast Asia due to lack of electric charging infrastructure and government incentives. For example, hybrid and electric vehicles represent less than 2% of the car parc in Thailand and only 0.4% in Indonesia, according to LMC Automotive, a leading provider of automotive production, sales and powertrain forecasts and automotive industry market intelligence.
Sanada said that while there are no immediate plans to produce electric vehicles in Southeast Asia, Nissan would consider local manufacturing depending on market growth.
“Once regional demand is to some size, of course in order to keep efficiency, we consider local production. It is normal for all manufacturers,” said Sanada.
He added that the company is in discussions with the government of Thailand, which is offering incentives to car manufacturers to localize production of electric cars.
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