Marking a major milestone in automotive history, Nissan Motor Co. has launched the Leaf, the world's first mass-marketed electric car. Nissan made the maximum initial orders for 6,000 cars in Japan, and 20,000 units in the United States.
Delivery of the first batch will begin in Japan on Dec. 20, 2010 and in selected U.S. states later in December, followed by the first European markets in January 2010.
In the launch event at Nissan's headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, CEO Toshiyuki Shiga said that he believes that the launching of the Leaf is the start of a new era for the auto industry.
However, Nissan is not the first major automaker to sell an electric car. In 2009, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. launched the smaller i-MiEV electric car, first to fleet customers and then to individuals this April 2010.
Nissan and Renault SA, its French partner, aim to be the top sellers in the budding electric car market, which the alliance expects to make up about 10 percent of its new vehicle sales globally by 2020.
Nissan and Renault have earmarked EUR4 billion ($5 billion) by 2013 to build assembly and battery factories capable of producing 500,000 EVs. Production of Mitsubishi Motors' i-MiEV hit a cumulative 5,000 units after sales began in July 2009. [via autonews - sub. required]