TOKYO (AP) -- An alliance between carmakers Nissan and Renault said Tuesday it had reached an agreement with the government of the Australian state of Victoria to promote the use of electric cars.
The companies said in a press release they had signed a preliminary accord to "identify potential areas of cooperation" for electric vehicles.
Nissan Australia Chief Executive Dan Thompson said in the release that his company hopes to sell a "battery-powered family sized car" in the country by 2012.
Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, which have had an alliance since 1999, have fallen behind other companies in gas-electric hybrid technologies and are looking to take the lead in purely electric, or zero-emission, vehicles.
The alliance has partnered with local governments in the U.S., Europe and Asia to promote the cars.
Nissan, Japan's No. 3 automaker, showed an electric hatchback called the Leaf to reporters in Japan earlier this week. The company said the car will cost about the same as gas-powered models and have a range of 100 miles (160 kilometers) on a single charge.
General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and other automakers are also planning electric vehicles in the near future. Governments in the U.S., Europe and Japan are offering or planning tax breaks and other incentives for environmentally friendly vehicles.