Nissan: Come & Get Your Electric Car (in April), Batteries Included

For buyers of the electric LEAF sedan coming up from Nissan (s NSANY), the battery pack and vehicle will come under one deal. While Nissan has previously said it was considering offering the battery under a separate lease contract, the automaker now says the vehicle “will be available to consumers via lease or sale, in a single transaction that includes the battery.” This could be a trendsetting move for how automakers finance the next generation of electric vehicles and what types of business models emerge around the market, since Nissan’s LEAF will be one of the first widely available plug-in models targeted for mainstream consumers.

Customers will be able to start taking the first step toward that transaction — paying a $100 reservation fee — in April, Nissan said in a release today. The final price for the car will be set “shortly” before that. A few months later, in August, Nissan plans to begin accepting “firm orders,” and by December 2010 deliveries will begin in the earliest markets.
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Ustream Eyes Asia With Major Funding Round

Ustream has nabbed a major strategic investment by Japan’s Softbank that could be worth $75 million over the next 18 months. With the new funding, Ustream will look to expand in Japan, China, Korea, and India, opening offices and hiring employees to tap dramatic mobile phone usage in those countries.

Japanese mobile phone and Internet operator Softbank made an initial investment of $20 million in Ustream, with the option to acquire additional shares by July 2011 that could bring its total investment in the live and mobile streaming startup to $75 million. With its initial investment, Softbank currently owns 13.7 percent of Ustream, valuing the company at around $150 million. If Softbank chooses to exercise its warrants, the additional $55 million investment would make it the company’s top shareholder.

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Daily Sprout

EPA Finalizes Endangerment Finding: The EPA said today “that greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten the public health and welfare of the American people. EPA also finds that GHG emissions from on-road vehicles contribute to that threat,” paving the way for the agency to regulate emissions rather than awaiting action from Congress.– EPA Press Release, Associated Press

Green Tech Patents Enter the Fast Lane: The Obama administration vowed today to streamline the patent review process for green technologies, starting with a pilot program meant to reduce the patent review time from 40 months to 12 months. The first 3,000 petitions that are filed will be considered on an expedited basis. — Greenwire via NYT

Tata Seeks to Tackle Low-Cost Water Treatment: Mumbai-based Tata Chemicals, a division of the Tata Group, said today it has launched a new, low-cost water purification device called the Tata Swach. Operating without running water or electricity, the device is meant to benefit rural India’s low-income population. — Cleantech Group

China Eyes Emission Cuts by 2040: China’s science and technology minister said in an interview today that the country’s greenhouse gas emissions will peak between 2030 and 2040, a comment that represents “the closest the world’s biggest emitter has come to setting a target for when its output of greenhouse gases will start to fall.” — The Guardian

Nissan LEAF to Hit SF Bay Area Next Year: As part of a collaboration with the Bay Area EV Corridor program, Nissan has committed to making its LEAF electric vehicle commercially available in the San Francisco Bay Area upon its debut in December 2010. — Press Release

PHOTOS: Renault’s New Electric Cars, Meet Twizy, Zoe, & Fluence

Meet the Renault EVs, a family of electric concept cars unveiled by the French automaker today at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The four models, which include the Twizy city car, Zoe, Fluence sedan and the latest iteration of the Kangoo “people carrier,” combined with Nissan’s upcoming LEAF sedan, amount to the starting lineup in the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s quest for domination of the global electric vehicle market.
Renault has designed the Fluence five-seater (the least cutesy of the four models shown in Frankfurt today and pictured after the jump) to be compatible with electric vehicle infrastructure startup Better Place’s “Quickdrop” battery swap system. Today the two companies announced plans to roll out at least 100,000 of the cars in Denmark and Israel by 2016, with buyers having the option to subscribe to Better Place’s services when sales begin in the first half of 2011.
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CHEAT SHEET: Truth About Sky-High MPG Claims for Electric, Hybrid and Mini Cars

The battle of the MPGs kicked into high gear this week with General Motors making the bold claim that its upcoming Chevy Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle, will get 230 MPG for city driving. Nissan countered with an announcement that its 2011 all-electric LEAF sedan will get some 367 MPG — oh, snap! This banter of course raises questions about the validity and relevance of measuring the efficiency of cars that run on electricity in terms of how far they can go on a gallon of gasoline. (Check out the Atlantic, Consumer Reports, EcoGeek and Edmunds’ Green Car Advisor for some thoughtful discussions.)
Fritz Henderson Makes Volt Announcement
While we’re at it, how did GM really come up with that triple-digit MPG, and how does the company’s calculations compare with ratings for cars like the LEAF, gen-3 Toyota Prius, Smart Fortwo, Tesla Roadster and the Fusion Hybrid from Ford, which said earlier this summer that it’s making fuel efficiency improvements a top priority in upcoming lineups? We’ve put together a chart comparing fuel economy claims and methodology for these vehicles to help put them in perspective.
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