At last week's Automotive News Green Car Conference, Brian Carolin, senior vice president for sales and marketing at Nissan acknowledged that extended range electric vehicles (EVs) could eventually join the pure battery electric Leaf in the marque's stable. However, Carolin emphasized that Nissan wanted to maximize the environmental benefit of its initial entries by going with pure battery electric and no direct emissions.

At the same conference, General Motors' director of hybrid and electric vehicle development Micky Bly said that his company's approach to EVs was to make sure they could be primary vehicles. The Volt is intended to be a vehicle that can operated emissions free most of the time and yet still be able to handle road trips when needed.

The factor that may end up driving Nissan toward implementing some sort of range extender system will be whether it can reach beyond early adopters. First year production of the Leaf is already "sold out," with more people signing up than there will be vehicles available. However, it's not clear if mainstream consumers will be willing to make the sacrifices in terms of range and having to plan trips that hardcore EV enthusiasts are willing to do. Right now, Nissan is still betting they will and is planning for an annual Leaf production capacity of 500,000 units within just a few years. But, in a business as capital intensive as the auto industry, no one can afford to go all-in on any one high-risk bet for very long. As the old Chinese proverb/curse says, everyone making those bets is living in very interesting times.


Related GalleryQuick Spin: 2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production prototype

Related Gallery2011 Nissan Leaf

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req'd]