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Nissan plans to launch electric car here

Citizen Staff Writer



Nissan will launch a new electric car in Tucson next year – and will work with the Pima Association of Governments and a Scottsdale company to scatter charging stations across the city by next year.

“We’ve got the car. We need the charging network to make all of this work,” said Mark Perry, Nissan Americas’ director of product planning and strategy.

The number and locations of charging stations will be determined after meeting with focus groups and studying electric car sales or registrations, said Colin Read, marketing director for Ecotality, the Scottsdale company that will help plan and install the network.

The goal is to get the stations at malls, theaters, Sun Tran Park and Ride lots or other places where people spend enough time to charge cars; two hours is about half a charge, Read said.

“We also foresee a few strategic fast-charging stations around Tucson,” he said.

Those could charge the new Nissan in less than half an hour, Perry said.

Nissan will help plan and publicize the program and work with PAG to develop necessary policy changes, such as common permitting processes and costs for each city or town in Pima County, Perry said.

“We want it to be as easy and as convenient and as cheap as the car you drive today,” he said.

The car, which Nissan has not yet revealed, will be a five-passenger, compact capable of 75-plus mph. It will get about 100 miles out of one full charge on its lithium ion batteries.

“Ninety-eight percent of the population drives less than 100 miles a day,” Perry said.

A source of funds for the system has not been found, though Read expects some businesses – such as coffee shops, malls or movie theaters – to install them for customers.

Similar partnerships will launch in Tennessee, Oregon and California, Perry said.

It’s not the first time a charging station network has been tried here. Ecotality handled a similar program when General Motors launched the EV1 in 1997, Read said.

But as the electric car market evolved, each manufacturer developed different ways to plug in vehicles, Read said.

“You couldn’t really create a standard charging system,” he said.

Now trade groups are working with manufacturers to standardize the charging systems.

With the vehicle expected in dealerships within 18 months, the charging network will have to be in place by then, Read said.

“Hopefully by next summer, we will have a lot of that infrastructure in place or have a good idea where it’s going to go,” he said.

Nissan plans to launch electric car in Tucson

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