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Nissan rolls out Leaf electric vehicle in Japan

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Nissan Motor Corporation rolled out its Leaf electric vehicle in Japan today, its first mass-produced electric car, with the first delivery expected to be made by the end of this year.

The company has got off to a good start as it is expecting to receive orders for 6,000 units, its target for fiscal 2010 ending March. It has also started receiving orders for sales from April.

But whether the vehicle will spread in Japan is likely to depend on the automaker's efforts to ensure convenience such as by increasing the number of chargers, as the EV only has a driving range of 200 kilometers per charge, about a third that of gasoline vehicles.

Nissan has installed 200-volt normal chargers at about 2,200 Nissan dealers nationwide, with 200 of them equipped with quick chargers that can replenish the battery to around 80 per cent of full capacity in about 30 minutes.

Mitsubishi Motors, which has released the i-MiEV EV, also plans to install quick chargers at its 70 dealers by the end of March.

Nissan is considering enabling drivers of the Leaf and i-MiEV to use quick chargers installed by both automakers, thus enhancing convenience for drivers of the EVs.

Also yesterday, Nissan launched a service for people who have purchased the Leaf, offering information about charging facilities and showing direct routes to them on a car navigation system installed in the EV. The service is available with a monthly fee of $18.