Nissan, SDGE Form EV Partnership

Nissan Motor Co. (7201.T) and the Renault-Nissan Alliance have entered a partnership with utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) for the development of a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

As a result, San Diego County will become one of the nation’s first "plug-in" ready green regions, according to SDG&E, which is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE).

Nissan unveiled a prototype electric vehicle at a ceremony announcing the partnership yesterday at the Port of San Diego. Nissan said its all-electric vehicle will be introduced to fleet operators in late 2010 and reach showroom floors by 2012.

Under the partnership, SDG&E will serve as the local San Diego coordinator to help assemble a critical mass of regional electric vehicle fleets that municipalities, universities, the military, the port, private fleets and others use daily.

"SDG&E’s partnership is another step toward making San Diego a national center for clean technology and green practices," said San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. "The public and private sectors in this region are working hand-in-hand to promote innovation and adoption of environmentally friendly technologies."

As part of its commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from its vehicle fleet by 15 percent by 2012, SDG&E has a goal of replacing its passenger vehicles with compressed natural gas and electric vehicles. With today’s announcement, SDG&E will be adding 15 to 20 of Nissan’s new zero-emission electric vehicles to the utility’s current fleet of 200 alternative-fuel vehicles.

In 2010, Nissan plans to introduce a five-passenger, compact all-electric passenger vehicle for fleet sales that is capable of achieving 100 miles on a single charge. Charging of the advanced lithium-ion battery is expected to take four to eight hours with a 220-volt line and also will be capable of charging through a standard 120-volt outlet.

Last year, SDG&E announced the results of a year-long study of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The plug-in hybrids showed a 60% increase in gas mileage and a 37% decrease in carbon-dioxide tailpipe emissions when compared with the original version of the hybrid vehicles. The early version of the hybrid vehicles already showed great reductions in these areas when compared with a conventional, gasoline-operated car.

In February, Nissan Motor Co. (7201.T) asked for U.S. government loans to assist in producing electric vehicles and batteries.

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