Although Nissan execs say the official corporate position regarding ownership of the advanced lithium-ion manganese battery modules that will power the upcoming LEAF EV remains in work in process, Chairman Carlos Ghosn has apparently made up his own mind. We spoke with him about clarifying that issue at a gathering here in Los Angeles being held to kick off the three-month cross-country preview tour for Nissan's advanced EV that ultimately will visit 22 cities in 11 states, the District of Columbia and Vancouver, Canada. Asked point blank, the man in charge responded: "The lease is a done deal. I would not accept selling the battery. Period." Those sentiments add even stronger emphasis to comments he expressed earlier in the day at a formal press conference which also included an announcement that Nissan had entered into an agreement with Reliant Energy of Houston, Texas, to promote new infrastructure programs for both home and public vehicle-recharging capabilities.

Ghosn's persuasive powers and get-it-done directives have been nothing short of legendary since Renault took controlling interest in the then-troubled Japanese automaker in the spring of 1999 and he became the CEO of both operations. However, for Nissan to good on the battery-leasing front, Ghosn & Co. will have to negotiate their way through some potentially sticky legal matters here in America as well as in the rest of the world. Key among them will be a provision that requires a manufacturer to sell new vehicles with an "all-in" component configuration. And then there's the matter of exactly how the potential $7,500 federal tax break will be distributed if the vehicle purchaser does not own the battery as well. Given the current pro-alternative power environment, chances seem good that these and other lesser issues will be resolved in a favorable way for buyers, leasers and sellers before the LEAF hits the showrooms late next year. And historically, siding against Ghosn has consistently proven to be a sucker bet. That said, there's still plenty of work to be done before the company's recently announced (4R plan) to efficiently reuse, resell, refabricate and recycle worn or outdated vehicle battery modules can realize its ultimate potential.

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