Every carmaker has an electric car “planned”, but most of these concepts are what they are – concepts – and few actually “walk the talk”. However, some of them mean business. Mitsubishi is a pioneer in putting EVs on the road with the i-MiEV, which will also sell in Europe with Peugeot and Citroen badges.

Renault-Nissan is also betting big time on an electric future – the Alliance aims to be the world leader in electric vehicles and will roll out 500,000 units per year across the globe from 2012. Designed to be affordable and mass market, Renault’s Z.E family of EVs and Nissan’s Leaf are on track to “electrify” the industry.

Nissan has announced that its Leaf will be made in Sunderland, UK, joining two other manufacturing hubs for the EV. Production will begin in Oppama, Japan later this year followed by Smyrna, Tennessee, USA in 2012. Sunderland will come on-line in early 2013 with an initial annual production capacity of about 50,000 units. Also, construction of Nissan’s advanced lithium-ion battery plant will begin next month. The facility, which will be located at Sunderland, will have a production capacity of 60,000 units per year. It will start supplying battery packs to Renault and Nissan come 2012.

To go on sale later this year, the Leaf is a zero-emissions EV powered by an 80kW electric motor. It has a real world range of 160 km and charges to 80% capacity in under 30 minutes. Top speed is “more than 140 km/h”, so this is not a city-only vehicle. Billed as the “world’s first affordable, mass produced zero emission car”, the Leaf is a five-seater C-segment hatchback sitting on an all-new dedicated EV platform. Will it come to Malaysia in the future? Possible, since the official pictures show a right-hand drive car, but it’s not easy for car companies to plan ahead when our country doesn’t have a clear roadmap on green cars and technology.

Click here for videos and images of the Nissan Leaf.