Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn drove quietly out of the Japanese automaker's soon-to-open headquarters Sunday in the first public viewing of its new zero-emission vehicle.Will this be the American automobile industry's "Sputnik" moment? Or will they once again be left in the dust?
It was the first time the external design was shown of Nissan Motor Co.'s environmentally friendly electric automobile, set to go on sale in Japan, the U.S. and Europe next year. The blue hatchback had a sporty design and a recharging opening in the front.
Designer Shiro Nakamura said the vehicle was designed to avoid a stereotypical futuristic design.
"This is not a niche car," he said. "We didn't make it unusual looking. It had to be a real car."
Nissan has promised that the Leaf, which goes into mass-production as a global model in 2012, will be about the same price as a gas-engine car such as the 1.5 million yen ($15,000) Tiida, which sells abroad as the Versa, starting at about $10,000.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
If this is any indication, the Japanese are once again prepared to boldy go where American automobile makers fear to tread.