Nissan turns over new Leaf – and it's electric

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The Independent Online

Nissan unveiled its first all-electric car at its new headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, yesterday.

The "Leaf" is Nissan's first move into the "green" car market, which until now has been dominated by part-electric, part-petrol hybrid models from rivals such as Toyota and Honda.

Fully electric cars are still a niche product, hampered by the technical challenges of battery life, the infrastructural challenges of charging points and the high costs of the new technology.

But Nissan claims its Leaf does 100 miles on each charge and the expensive lithium-ion battery may be leased, keeping the price on a par with petrol-engine equivalents such Nissan's Versa.

Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive, hailed "the unveiling of a real-world car that has zero – not simply reduced – emissions".

The Leaf goes on sale in Japan and America next year, and worldwide from 2012, by which time Nissan hopes its factories will be churning out 100,000 a year.

It has some serious catching up to do. Toyota and Honda both released upgraded models of their Prius and Insight hybrids earlier this year.