JOHANNESBURG – Nissan believes that the time has arrived for electric vehicle mobility in South Africa.

Addressing the 2011 Car Conference at the Johannesburg International Motor Show, Pierre Loing, Nissan International's vice president product planning and zero emission business unit, said that the success of the multiple award-winning Nissan LEAF has paved the way for greater acceptance of EV technology - a necessity, given the threat to our planet's survival from global warming.

"There is a determination from governments, businesses and individuals across the world to reduce CO2 emissions as well as their dependence on fossil energies," Loing said, especially with an expanding global population and increased demand for motorisation.

Many countries have already introduced penalties for exceeding CO2 emission limits in an effort to curb the 10% of total emissions for which the automotive industry is responsible.

South Africa, which is preparing to beef up its climate policy, is poised to join a growing list of countries taking delivery of the Nissan LEAF, the first in a planned line-up of mass-produced 100% EVs. Close to 100 partnerships have already been signed with governments, private companies and other organisations in Europe, Japan and North America to ensure the successful adoption of EVs.

Apart from the many advantages of the vehicle itself - including competitive safety and performance features, as well as advanced battery technology and low running costs - a key focus in attracting customers is charging infrastructure and access to charging points. Nissan is ensuring their provision through partnerships with so-called electric mobility operators.

Together with Alliance partner Renault, and a combined four billion euro investment in EV and battery development, Nissan aims to put 1.5 million EVs on the world's roads worldwide by the end of fiscal year 2016, with a vision that EVs comprise 10% of total new vehicles sales by 2020.

"We recognise that EVs will not appeal to everyone," concedes Loing. "They are ideal for regular short distance travel and this is the market we are targeting," he said. Of the 61.8 million vehicles sold globally in 2009, an estimated 10 million are used primarily in urban areas with relatively short driving distances. "The average EV range of around 160 km on a single charge is, therefore, sufficient for most daily trips."

Loing believes that South Africa, which is to host the Climate Change Conference in Durban in November, is ready to embrace the EV and is excited at the prospect of bringing the Nissan LEAF to African shores.


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