Nissan CEO Talks Electric Car Sales And Chinese Production

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Carlos Ghosn is a busy man.

In charge of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, his remit includes the diverse product lines of each company and most recently, each carmaker's electric vehicle range, too.

Speaking to Leaf owners at a jamboree at Kansai University, Japan, Ghosn is still positive about each company's electric car prospects.

Capturing enthusiasm

Ghosn first talks about increasing sales. Early figures haven't quite matched the company's estimates, and poor exchange rates haven't helped matters.

"We have a car that technically is fit. Quality is under control. We're working to reduce the cost. We are working to develop the infrastructure" he says.

The aim is still to increase sales, and improve the implementation of a charging infrastructure to reduce the public's fears over range anxiety--even if current electric car owners aren't finding it to be too much of an issue.

Coupled with improvements in the yen to dollar exchange rates, it should also make the Leaf a cheaper vehicle to produce. This will improve still now that Leafs are being produced at Nissan's Tennessee factory and the company's Washington plant in the United Kingdom--both of which remove the costs associated with shipping and currency exchanges.

Ghosn does say Nissan is working on a city car with Renault, too. He doesn't elaborate, but Nissan is still trialling a fleet of re-badged Renault Twizy city cars in Japan--so a Nissan-badged version is the most likely candidate.

Expansion into China

China may not look like the most ideal market for electric cars right now, and the economic giant is even backing away from pure battery vehicles in favor of hybrids.

However, Ghosn remains positive.

The Leaf will be sold in China soon, albeit under a different brand name, Venucia. It's a risky move to invest so heavily in a market with minutely small electric car sales numbers, but Ghosn has seen China's commitment to electric vehicles--2 million of them by 2020.

Whether or not that target will be reached, an increase is still expected--and Renault-Nissan wants to lead the market as it does so. Ghosn does see sales increasing--"Personally, I have no doubt on this--it's just the speed with which we will be moving. Obviously, we will be helped by governments, because they are interested in seeing this technology develop."

And with every sale, he notes, the costs come down. As costs come down, so too does the price of the car--which Ghosn says has a positive impact on sales.

It's a slow process--slower and riskier than many other automakers would tolerate--but if he pulls it off, Carlos Ghosn could see Nissan becoming a major player in the world market for electric vehicles.


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