Nissan Going Electric in China

Japan’s Nissan Motor (s NSANY) is heading to China with new plans for electric vehicles. The president of the car maker’s China division says that the company will start selling electric cars in the country by 2012, according to Bloomberg.

The news comes the same day that Detroit’s Big Three are in Washington to get more money for their faltering businesses, suffering in part from a dependence on sales of the now-unpopular gas-guzzling SUVs.

At the Guangzhou International Auto Show today, Yasuaki Hashimoto, president of Nissan Motor (China) Ltd., said that China is one of the most important markets for electric cars. According to Bloomberg, the Chinese government is helping to push more environmentally friendly cars in the country by cutting taxes on fuel-efficient vehicles and plans to support domestic research in greener cars.

Nissan already has some significant electric vehicle deals lined up with its French partner Renault, under the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The Alliance is working with California’s Better Place, a car-charging network developer, on projects in Israel, Denmark and Australia, and has also cut deals of its own with Portugal, France, the Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan and, in the U.S., Tennessee. More deals could be on the way; the governor of Michigan met with Better Place in Israel this week.

The battery packs for the planned Renault-Nissan electric cars will come from Automotive Energy Supply, a joint venture between Nissan and NEC. The cars are expected to hit the road in Israel and Denmark in 2011, and Australia the following year.

In August, Nissan unveiled an all-electric prototype based on its Cube model, but at the time the company said the production version will have a unique bodystyle and won’t be based on any existing Nissan models. Renault also showed off its electric concept car in October, based on the Renault Kangoo.