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Japanese automaker Nissan and French car manufacturer Renault have had a rather lengthy relationship, one where each company owns a portion of the other. Carlos Ghosn is the CEO of both companies, the only automotive executive who oversees more than one car company at a time.

This special relationship has allowed the two companies to work together on a number of projects including one of the most important initiatives of the 21st century: the building of a zero emissions vehicle (ZEV), the first group which will be on US streets by next year. If all goes according to plan, the Nissan-Renault ZEV project will be turned up a notch in 2012 when full production kicks in.

Powered by a lithium-ion battery pack and zero-emission electric motor, the ZEV destined for American roads will provide a much more friendly environmental footprint unlike any seen before in a mass production vehicle. Though the project managers haven't said how many ZEVs will be built, the two companies have the scale to produce hundreds of thousands of these types of vehicles if demand is warranted.

"Nissan through the Renault-Nissan Alliance has committed to being a global leader in zero-emission vehicles," said Dominique Thormann, senior vice president, administration and finance, Nissan North America. "Nissan and SDG&E have a shared belief that the introduction and expansion of electric vehicles is one of the best solutions to reducing CO2 emissions. This partnership is an important step in making zero emissions a reality in San Diego." San Diego is one of many cities, states and countries who have signed on to participate in the ZEV pilot program.

The Nissan-Renault program is one of many under development by car manufacturers around the world. Pure electric models are in production in China while Tesla Motors and later this year, Karma Automotive, have already set their vehicles in motion. It is believed that by 2015, all major car manufacturers in the world will have at least one ZEV in production.

About the Author

Matthew C. Keegan is a freelance writer who resides in North Carolina. Matt is a contributing writer for Andy's Auto Sport an aftermarket supplier of quality parts including Chevrolet Corvette wheels and Mercedes wheels.