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Nissan aims for EV jackpot in China

2014-05-15 07:36

BEATING THE SMOG: Nissan hopes to secure a fifth of the Chinese electric vehicle market with EV products such as its Leaf. Image: Nissan

TOKYO, Japan - Nissan and Chinese car maker Dongfeng Motor Company are aiming to have a 20% share in the Chinese electric car market.

It's hoped that Nissan's joint venture in China secures a fifth of the electric vehicle market as authorities get to grips with choking air pollution.

Dongfeng has ambitions of claiming a 20% segment share with its local Venucia brand to be launched in September 2014.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS MOUNT

Head of the joint venture between Dongfeng and Nissan, Jun Seki, said: "We will thrive with Venucia e30 in China. Japan's second-largest car-maker is the maker of the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle.

"We need some preparations in the first fiscal year but will eventually target a 20% segment share."

Seki was upbeat on the future of electric vehicles in China, where he said the government was giving generous corporate and consumer incentives to increase sales of environmentally friendly cars.

Seki said: "You may think the 20% share goal sounds too high. But we already have a very good share in the global electric car market. The 20% goal is not too aggressive. We could aim even higher."

Environmental concerns are mounting in China, where decades of unfettered growth has created harmful pollution, and choking smog regularly envelops major cities.

The Chinese government, wary of growing public anger, is trying to grapple with air pollution it estimates costs as much as the equivalent of R3-trillion a year through health problems and premature deaths.

In 2013, China's auto sales surged 13.9% to 21-million vehicles, according to an industry group, but sales of "new energy" vehicles - which includes fully electric cars and hybrids - were tiny at around 25 000 over the past two years according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Nissan said around 30 000 "green" cars were sold in China in 2012. Like other Japanese automakers, Nissan's Chinese venture suffered a dent in sales in late 2012 and into 2013.

Seki said, after the eruption of a Tokyo-Beijing row over disputed islands sparked a consumer boycott of Japanese brands. The island dispute forced Dongfeng Motor Company to push back its goal to sell two million vehicles - both electric and combustion engine - by 2015.

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