LOS ANGELES – Nissan North America Inc. is part of a global study team exploring plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles and electric vehicles, an official confirms.

“We’re targeting either a plug-in HEV or EV in the future,” Larry Dominique, senior vice president-product planning, tells Ward’s here following Nissan’s press conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

He says NNA is part of a global team studying the alternative technologies but “opportunities within the U.S.” also are being considered.

“Obviously, if somebody can get a plug-in with more range, then there’s more opportunity,” Dominique says.

However, he notes in California the “infrastructure has kind of eroded for plug-ins.”

Meanwhile, Nissan continues to monitor the HEV market and, if it sees opportunity, will expand sales of the new Altima Hybrid sedan beyond the eight U.S. states with stringent emissions regulations.

“We’re covering our mandate for sure, but if the demand is there, we certainly have the opportunity to roll it out nationally,” Dominique says.

He adds HEVs still are more expensive to develop and produce than a gasoline-engine model and U.S. sales of hybrids have been somewhat supplemental.

“What we’re starting to see is a lot of substitutionality,” he says. “If you look at (the Toyota) Highlander, their total volume is no bigger than it was when it was (only available with a gasoline engine).”

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com