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Nissan Turns Up the Heat in the Electric Car Race

Stocks in this article: NSANY GM F TM HMC

4. There may be an extreme electric Nissan sports car.

Nissan has done a lot of work on preparing an extreme electric sports car but has not taken the final decision to produce it. Such a decision could be made very soon. Once a decision is made it would take two years to conduct durability testing and plan for production. All the basic R&D and concept designs are done.

This would be an extreme car in the same sense as the 1997-2002 Plymouth Prowler: It wouldn't be anywhere near the most expensive or the fastest car in the market but it would be the most extreme-looking imaginable. A true Batman car. And it would be all-electric.

If signoff happens very soon, the car could be in production very late 2016; otherwise, later. If this extreme Nissan electric sports car does become reality, it would be a major halo car. It would be very light, very agile and all-electric.

5. Nissan will make a plug-in hybrid car.

Until now, Nissan has not made a plug-in hybrid car. Most other major auto companies including General Motors (GM), Ford (F), Mercedes, BMW, VW, Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC) and Volvo already have some form of plug-in hybrid car in the market today, in many cases with additional models already announced and entering production soon.

There are many types of plug-in hybrids, with varying sizes for the battery, electric motor, gasoline engine, gasoline tank, transmission and other architectural layouts. Nissan's plug-in hybrid will not be a strict range-extender as in the BMW i3.

Instead, it will be somewhere along the architectural spectrum between the Chevrolet Volt/Cadillac ELR and the plug-in hybrids from the VW Group, Ford, Toyota, Mercedes and Volvo. This would mean a gross/total battery size somewhere between 8 and 16 kWh, and a three- or four-cylinder gasoline engine.

I don't know in which Nissan body such a plug-in hybrid will be made available, but it would be announced no later than March 2016 (likely earlier) and be in production no later than some time in 2016, perhaps as early as late 2015.

Nissan said that while it continues to believe that the right solution is a pure electric car, it also recognizes that its pure EV technology is plenty extendible to the plug-in hybrid market. It makes a lot of sense to capitalize on this, as in the real world there is likely to be good demand for plug-in hybrids while we await lower battery costs and a far more robust EV infrastructure.

As it stands, there are too few electric car chargers, and those that exist tend to be busy when you need to use them given that there are far more electric cars in the market than there are chargers available in public parking garages and office parking lots.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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