A LACK of buyer incentives could delay sales of plug-in electric cars in Australia.
The world's carmakers are racing to make battery-powered city runabouts a major force in 21st century motoring but also say governments must provide incentives such as the $8200 subsidy announced last week by the British government.
Nissan, which launched its all-new Leaf zero-emission car at the Geneva Motor Show, said incentives are vital but it has had little success in lobbying the Kevin Rudd government in Canberra.
"The Leaf will come to Australia but it may not be among the early adopters," Nissan's global senior vice president of product planning, Andy Palmer, said.
Nissan's global CEO, Carlos Ghosn, said in Geneva that new technologies need official support to get traction and to help lower prices for families wanting zero-emission cars like the Leaf.
Palmer is bringing the Leaf to Australia in two weeks to show Victorian and NSW politicians. However, despite efforts by Nissan Australia to engage the Rudd government for the past 18 months, there has been little interest. So far only the Victorian, NSW and ACT governments have been receptive to the all-electric hatch, with Victoria and NSW signing memorandums of understandings to bring the car and the ACT committed to providing infrastructure for the car by 2011, a year before it is due to go on sale locally.
"Our reason for coming is to try and garner intent for the car," said Palmer.
Nissan Australia's managing director, Dan Thompson, said discussions with the Federal Government had been "ongoing for quite some time". "We made a decision last year to focus on a State level and we have been very successful."