Renault-Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn, says he expects the spread of electric vehicles around the world to be a gradual one, predicting internal combustion and hybrid units will continue to dominate for decades.

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Ghosn, speaking in New York today, said he believed all-electric vehicles would make up just 10 per cent of the sales by 2020.

“[Electric cars] are not going to take the world by storm. Electricity is going to compliment oil,” he said.

He said Renault-Nissan’s focus was on electric vehicles in the future, believing that the company can establish itself as an industry leader just as Toyota has with hybrids.

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Nissan’s venture into the plug-in market begins next year with a limited run of its Leaf hatchback before launching into global mass-production in 2012.

More than 25,000 people have expressed their interest in the Leaf through Nissan’s website as the car continues its world tour, currently winning over fans in the US.

Ghosn expects China and India will also become major markets for electric vehicles, needing zero-emissions vehicles to control carbon levels as the number of car owners skyrockets.

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The Leaf’s energy comes from a lithium-ion battery pack and it is powered by an electric motor capable of 80kW and 280Nm.

A full eight hour charge from a regular power point fuels it for around 160km, while an 80 per cent charge can be achieved in just 30 minutes.

In August, Nissan Australia confirmed the Leaf would be among the first fleet of all-electric cars down under when it arrives in 2012.

by Tim Beissmann (with AP)