>> Sunday, September 6, 2009
NASHVILLE--Imagine selling cars in a country with no gas stations. That's the challenge facing Nissan Motor Co.'s electric-vehicle ambitions. No recharging stations, no Nissan electric-vehicle sales.
Enter Tracy Woodard.
"It's sort of a chicken-and-egg thing," she says. "You can't sell EVs until there's an infrastructure. These things have to be hard-wired, and communities have to plan for that."
Woodard, director of government affairs at Nissan North America, has been on the road almost nonstop since last year, appealing to cities and states around the country to stimulate the creation of local electric-vehicle infrastructures.
So far, Woodard has worked out partnerships with governments and utilities in eight cities, states, or regions, including San Diego, Phoenix, and Raleigh, N.C. Local authorities have pledged to begin moving forward on electric-vehicle recharging networks, making new power-grid plans, devising residential electrical permitting policies, and the like.
Nissan aims to be the industry leader in mass-marketing electric vehicles in the United States. In June, the company said it will spend $1.6 billion to construct an electric-vehicle assembly operation in Smyrna, Tenn., along with a factory to manufacture lithium ion batteries. It will train 1,300 employees for the task.