Nissan strives for selling 1.5 Million Zero-Emissions Cars by 2016 image

Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest automaker behind Toyota, iterated that it wants to be the world’s largest player in so-called “zero-emission vehicles”, including a new fuel cell electric vehicle developed with Daimler.

During an interview earlier today, in Yokohama (Japan), Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said: “We want to take leadership in these technologies. (…) I understand we were not the first in developing hybrid cars. That’s completely fine, as long as we are the leading company in developing all-electric cars.”

Around 70 percent of Nissan’s investments in advanced research and development will be guided towards environmental friendly technologies, for a total around 300 billion yen ($3.94 billion) over the same period. Current researches include a new fuel cell electric vehicle developed with Daimler.

Electric cars remain a niche market so far. The company, which is 43.8 percent owned by French partner Renault, has sold about 16,600 Leaf cars around the world since they went on sale in December 2010 and plans to add a further seven models across the group. The global competition in electric vehicles is expected to intensify as other carmakers, such as Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp., enter the sector. Toyota already launched plug-in hybrid cars, which run partly as EVs but switch to become regular hybrids with gas engines when they run out of the electric charge.

Due to the earthquake and tsunami from March, Japanese firms were hit hard by power and chronic parts supply shortages and companies such as Nissan, Toyota and Honda had to drastically reduce production and shut plants due to a lack of crucial components.

In June, Nissan’s global production increased with 18.5 percent versus last year, reaching 419,831 units, while the its main competitors – Toyota and Honda – declined by 7.9 percent and 44.5 percent respectively.

During the first fiscal quarter of 2011, Nissan sold a total of 1,056,000 vehicles globally, up 10.6 percent on-year.