YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn is spending big money to make electric vehicles in high volumes -- and soon.
On Aug. 2, Ghosn will unveil the first of three electric models in three vehicle segments that he plans to sell by 2013. The vehicles will be made in the United States, Japan and Europe.
"We have a different strategy from other car manufacturers," Ghosn says. "We are the only ones investing for mass marketing, which is a risk, yes. But we think it is a bet in the right direction."
That bet takes shape at a new lithium ion battery plant and at an electric-vehicle assembly line that Nissan will build at its Smyrna, Tenn., manufacturing complex. A $1.6 billion low-interest loan from the U.S. government will cover some of the costs. Analysts question the payoff.
Nissan is not alone in going electric.
-- In June, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., maker of Subaru cars, began leasing electric cars in Japan. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. follows later this month.
-- Toyota Motor Corp. will sell a plug-in Toyota Prius after 2010, taking on the Chevrolet Volt, which goes on sale in November 2010.
-- BMW AG's Mini brand is testing a plug-in model in the United States.
-- Tesla Motors Inc., owned 10 percent by Daimler AG, received a $465 million government loan to help bring its $57,400 Model S electric sedan to market.