A top Nissan official in the U.S. said Monday that Tennessee is one of the first locations where it will sell its new all-electric car after it arrives in late 2010.
Also, the company eventually would like to make the car and its batteries in Smyrna, Tenn., and the Chattanooga area is in line for electric refueling infrastructure for the new vehicle, said Mark Perry, director of product planning and strategy for Nissan North America.
"Tennessee will be a launch market," said Mr. Perry, additionally mentioning Oregon and Sonoma County, Calif.
The car will seat five and be in the size range of a Sentra or Versa, he told the Chattanooga Engineers Club.
"It will have 100 miles of pure battery range," Mr. Perry said. He said Toyota's 2010 Prius hybrid electric gets about 10 miles range on pure battery, while the planned Chevy Volt will get 40.
Mr. Perry said the Nissan, running on a lithium ion battery pack, won't be a test model.
"We're ready to go mass production and mass sales," he said.
The Nissan official said that while the cost for a conventional vehicle of similar size may range from $28,000 to $30,000, the federal government is offering a tax credit of up to $7,500 on the electric. There also will be other steps to lower the buyer's initial costs.
He said maintenance costs will be about $1,350 lower annually for the pure electric vehicle than a conventional car.
"The pay back is immediate," Mr. Perry said. He estimated the cost to "fill the tank" in the Tennessee Valley at about 90 cents, and it will take about four to eight hours to do so at a residence.
Mr. Perry said plans are to get that time frame down to four hours in 2012.
Jim Frierson, who directs the Advanced Transportation Technology Institute in Chattanooga, said Nissan's plans are "music to our ears."
He said the drive for putting electric vehicles on the road is "the space race of the decade."
In terms of recharging infrastructure, plans are to start in the Nashville-Murfreesboro-Franklin area. Nissan's USA headquarters are located in Franklin. Then, plans are to gain infrastructure in Knoxville and Chattanooga and eventually into North Carolina, Mr. Perry said.
While the car will be made in Japan at first, Mr. Perry said the company likes to produce vehicles where they're purchased.