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Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn: 56,000 orders for Leaf zero-emissions car

The CEO of Nissan says the Japanese company is preparing to mass-produce 500,000 of its all-electric, zero-emissions Nissan Leaf in 2012.

Hybrids, schmybrids.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of both Nissan and Renault, said the Japanese automaker is preparing to begin mass production of the Leaf zero-emissions plug-in electric vehicle in 2012, with a planned capacity of 500,000 vehicles for Japan, Europe and the United States.

In a recent BusinessWeek article, Ghosn derided competitors' concept cars as empty promises, while his company tools up to meet demand from consumers, taxi companies and local governments.

"Frankly, I mean so far there is no competition. Let's be serious. It's not because someone is coming with a prototype and one car that this is competition. The question is how much capacity are you building."

Nissan will offer the Leaf as soon as the end of this year. Ghosn said the company has already received 56,000 orders in the U.S. alone -- not a bad start to what Nissan believes will be 10 percent of the global auto market within the decade.

The all-electric Leaf uses a lithium-ion battery and can top out at 85 miles per hour.

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