Nissan's at work on an all-electric car that would mark a significant step forward from the wimpy models that have some out so far:

Technically, says [Nissan CEO Carlos] Ghosn, everything is now ready for electric vehicles to enter the mainstream—except for the batteries, in which Nissan and NEC, a Japanese industrial giant, are “investing massively”. What matters for all-electric vehicles—as opposed to hybrids, such as the Chevrolet Volt, due in 2010, which can fall back on a petrol engine when the battery runs out—are their limited range and the time taken to recharge their batteries.

When California briefly mandated the sale of electric vehicles in the early 1990s, their 50-mile range and long charging cycles meant that they failed to attract more than a dedicated core of green-minded motorists. But lithium-ion battery technology could push range to 200 miles, and fast-charge systems promise to provide a 70% top-up in only a little more time than it takes to fill a tank with petrol.

It may or may not come to pass that soon, but needless to say, that's an incredibly exciting prospect for car lovers. I think Ghosn gets it exactly right when he says "nothing can stop the car being the most coveted product that comes with development". Mass transit is all well and good, but if cars can't be made significantly greener, we're in trouble.

--Josh Patashnik