A David-vs.-Goliath battle is taking place to win the hearts and wallets of electric car buyers.
Tiny upstarts such as Norway's Think and Fisker Automotive of the United States feel they have the advantage because all they do is electric or plug-in hybrid cars. Meanwhile, established automakers such as Nissan Motor Co. and Daimler AG believe customers will want their electric cars to come from companies with decades of experience.
"I think they'll wait for a name brand," Nissan Europe Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Trevor Mann told Automotive News Europe. "We think with Nissan we have a good heritage in technology and engineering. We make extremely good quality vehicles. We will deliver all of that with electric."
Nissan launches the Leaf full-electric car in Europe, the United States and Japan this year.
In a separate interview with ANE, Daimler Chief Environmental Officer Herbert Kohler said: "For me it is rather logical that they will look to Mercedes for those kind of cars and not the others because nobody knows how long those (newcomer) companies will exist in the future."
Daimler currently offers a limited number of full-electric Smart ForTwo minicars in Europe. Volume production of the car at Daimler's plant in Hambach, France, is set to start in 2012.
Henrik Fisker, CEO of Fisker Automotive, doesn't believe his company is at a disadvantage when competing against automotive giants.