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We’ve got reached a turning level in automobile electrification, says Nissan's CEO

A Nissan Leaf is charged in Dortmund.

Unkel | ullstein picture | Getty Images

According to Nissan's chief operating officer, a "turning point" has been reached in vehicle electrification and the Japanese automotive giant "is ready to seize this opportunity anywhere in the world".

In an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Tuesday, Ashwani Gupta said that the switch to electric vehicles had been driven by customers and made possible by infrastructure and government support.

Indeed, the increase in the number of electric vehicles used by consumers has been quite rapid over the past decade. According to the International Energy Agency, around 17,000 electric cars were on the road worldwide in 2010. Last year there were 7.2 million, 47% of them in China.

Nissan Gupta's comments come as authorities around the world try to increase the number of electric vehicles on roads to tackle air pollution and move away from the internal combustion engine.

For example, the UK has announced plans to stop selling new diesel and gasoline cars from 2030. In other countries, Denmark has proposed phasing out sales of new diesel and gasoline cars in 2030, while Norway wants all new light vans and cars that will be zero-emission by 2025.

"We believe electrification is valued by customers with support and infrastructure," added Gupta, saying Nissan is "ready" for the UK 2030 roadmap.

Gupta's mention of infrastructure is important as it will play a crucial role in addressing concerns about "range anxiety" – the idea that electric vehicles cannot make long trips without losing power and being stranded.

Efforts are being made worldwide to increase the number of charging options for electric vehicles.

According to the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, Norway, a world leader in electric vehicle adoption, has more than 10,000 public charging points, while the UK's first electric vehicle charging forecourt opened for this purpose this week.

Green license plates

On Tuesday, the UK also introduced green license plates to distinguish zero-emission vehicles from others on the road.

The license plates have a "green lightning bolt" on the left. The overall idea is to make these types of vehicles easier to recognize.

"Green license plates will not only raise awareness of the increasing number of clean vehicles on our roads, but will also create a number of incentives for drivers," said Rachel Maclean, the UK's Secretary of Transport, in a statement.

At the local level, these incentives could include "cheaper parking as well as free entry to zero-emission zones", according to the government.

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