UPDATED So much for the plan to achieve world domination of zero-emission cars. Nissan Motor Co. is suspending its plan to roll out electric vehicles in Japan and the U.S. by 2010, and globally by 2012. The automaker announced today that its so-called GT 2012 plan will be put on hold so that it can focus on navigating the global economic downturn. Update: Nissan said it still plans to launch electric vehicles internationally by 2012, after an initial rollout in the U.S. and Japan in 2010.
Given the big plays Nissan has made recently to grab a share of the emerging electric vehicle market – including Renault-Nissan Alliance deals with Portland General Electric and Shai Agassi’s Better Place to build out EV infrastructure — the company’s new game plan signals a pullback across the industry.
But it’s not a total shutdown: Nissan still plans to launch an all-electric vehicle by 2012 (just one, rather than the full lineup it originally planned) despite plummeting worldwide demand, a global credit squeeze — and a net loss of ¥83.2 billion (about $904.2 million) last quarter. As the Wall Street Journal explains, the automaker is also hurting from a strengthening yen, since it cuts the value of overseas earnings and lowers margins on vehicles produced in Japan for international consumers.
Funds from the U.S. Department of Energy might help. In a first for Japan-based automakers, Nissan has joined the more than 70 companies — including startup Tesla Motors — seeking funds under the DOE loan program for manufacturing fuel-efficient and electric vehicles, Bloomberg reports.