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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Australian Govt uninterested in electric vehicles says Nissan

Nissan says the federal government has shown no interest in encouraging people to buy its ground-breaking electric vehicle, the Leaf.

"The Australian government has given us a big, fat zero thus far, so without any level of incentives that will have a big impact on our ability to deliver in the early days," Nissan Australia managing director Dan Thompson says.

"It's no different to how it was 12 months ago, yet in that time we've seen probably 10 to 15 governments around the world being very aggressive in supporting EVs (electric vehicles). But nothing for us."

The car will not arrive in Australia until 2012 but Nissan has already lobbied extensively and without success for government assistance to both defray the cost of the car to consumers and assist with vital recharging infrastructure.

In some European and Asian countries, buyers of the Leaf will be offered thousands of dollars in tax breaks or rebates, as well as free parking and registration discounts.

Dutch buyers of the car will pay €32,839 ($46,620) with tax savings of between €6000 and €19,000 over five years, while British buyers will pay £23,350 ($39,840) after government incentives.

Mr Thompson says Nissan is still 12 months away from naming its Australian pricing on the rechargeable five-door hatchback, but European pricing would be "indicative".

Mr Thompson urged the federal government to move quickly to help Nissan to bring more of the cars to Australia.

"The sooner the better for us when it comes to discussing allocation issues," he says.

Nissan-Renault Alliance president Carlos Ghosn has championed the company's cutting-edge EV program and says proactive governments that offer worthwhile incentives will receive larger allocations of the alliance's electric cars.

Mr Thompson fears Australian customers will miss out unless the federal government acts quickly. "What we're looking for are consumer incentives so really we need that information at the time we announce pricing. That's what we've done in Japan, the US and some European countries," he says.

"Certainly it will have a negative impact in the short term on the volumes that are allocated to our market and the volumes we will be selling. "This isn't something we need long term, it's something we need for the first generation, until the point where we have scale and the cost of the technology is equivalent or close to equivalent to today's technology."

Nissan continues to lobby the federal government through a working group formed by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) and is now focusing its efforts on working with state governments on infrastructure and incentive programs.

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