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Nissan Says It Will "Plug" Electric Cars In U.S. By 2010

Tuesday, 13 May 2008 | 10:07 AM ET

The future of mass market quantities of electric cars is getting a big push today from one on the more "electric" leaders in the auto industry.

Nissan/Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is expected to announce his company plans to sell its first electric cars in the U.S. by 2010--according to the New York Times. While Nissan will make a limited number of models at first, Ghosn tells the Times that he expects the automaker to eventually have a full line-up of electric cars, perhaps by 2012.

Nissan's declaration, along with GM's plan to roll out the Chevy Volt by 2010, shows the automakers are more serious than ever before about electric cars. Yes, I know that some of you will point out that firms like Tesla and Venturi are already building electric cars. But the plans of the major automakers elevate the electric car race to a whole new level.

It shows that this is not just a token effort to appease environmentalists or make the companies look eco-friendly. Electric cars have the potential to ultimately raise the fuel efficiency ratings for the entire line-up of vehicles the company's produce. There's also the potential boost the bottom line by selling electric cars at a premium. In theory, these cars could provide a real jolt to auto sales as people decide to upgrade to an electric car/truck/SUV.

The cynics will say we shouldn't get to enthused about electric cars because there are still many technological hurdles. And there are many (battery development, meeting safety standards, etc) the industry needs to conquer. But make no mistake, the race is on.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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