As the traditional car industry struggles against a lack of consumer credit, economic instability and its own growing pains, several of the major players are forging ahead with next-generation vehicle programs, including all-electric zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs). Nissan has been at the forefront of the field, alongside corporate partner Renault, for some time, and today it plans to kick of a U.S. tour with its newest ZEVs, starting in San Diego.

A ride-and-drive program with San Diego Gas & Electric hosting the community leaders and fleet operators will expose people to the potential for EVs and ZEVs with Nissan's lithium-ion battery pack and electric drivetrain.

Nissan has lately been working on a number of electric-drive concepts and fleet test vehicles, including the EV-02 prototype, the NV2500 commercial van, the Denki Cube concept EV, and a number of previous concepts. Earlier this month the company announced a new ZEV partnership program in Tucson, Arizona, and a production EV with a leased battery pack is expected to hit the streets by 2010.

The event is presently underway, with a press conference scheduled for later in the day.

Nissan hasn't announced when or where the next leg of the coast-to-coast tour will be, but with a start in San Diego, expect some movement up the Pacific coastline before the journey east begins.