All but a handful of cars on the floor of the LA Auto Show, which runs through Nov. 30, have combustion engines—including quite a few diesels—but electric cars are getting their moment in the spotlight at the greenest of US auto shows.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of both Nissan and French carmaker Renault, gave the keynote address to kick off the show’s media days. After nodding to the severe financial pressures facing all carmakers in the current market slowdown, he reiterated Nissan’s plans to offer an electric vehicle in the US and Japan in 2010 for commercial customers and large fleets, with showroom sales to consumers in 2012. Ghosn envisions as many as seven million pure electric vehicles being sold around the world by 2020—given the necessary investment from auto companies and governments. That figure would represent about 10 percent of the total market.

Ghosn pointed out that Nissan has experimented with lithium ion batteries to power vehicles since 1992, and now owns its own lithium ion battery company, through a joint venture. He envisions a lineup of electric vehicles shared by Nissan and Renault, from a small urban vehicle to a minivan, and even a 4×4 or sport utility. Each of these must be appealing on its own, he stressed, offering every capacity that standard cars do, with zero emissions as “the cherry on the cake.”

An exclusive interview with Mark Perry, Nissan’s director of product planning. Perry talked about the company’s design approach for electric vehicles, production capacity for batteries, and why all-electric cars are better than plug-in hybrids.