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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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Comments (9)
  1. I believe it was in 2008 or 2009 that he said that by 2012 all of the Nissan line would have electric cars. Now maybe the bad times that started right around then put those plans on the back burner. Many people will not buy a car that has less than a 150-175 mile range with the air conditioners and heat on. If that can be a Fusion or Camry like car sold for $35,000 and there are rapid charging stations every 150 miles that would be great for sales.

    One big question - Is are electric grid strong enough for this?
     
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  2. @Barry: Yeah, the grid is fine. See our story here:
    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1047023_no-electric-vehicles-wont-bring-down-the-u-s-power-grid
     
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  3. "Is are electric grid strong enough for this? "

    We won't have to worry about it until we have about 100 million EVs on the road.
     
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  4. Barry, why don't you do the math? Just asking the question is more like you're trying to spread FUD (no offense meant).

    Step 1: google "us vehicle miles driven" (3,000 billion)
    Step 2: Look up Nissan LEAF EPA range (73)
    Step 3: Look up Nissan LEAF battery size (24)

    EV electricity demand: 3E12 / 73 * 24 ≈ 1 billion kWh

    Step 4: google "Annual US electricity consumption". First hit: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/showtext.cfm?t=ptb0802a

    Total annual US electricity consumption = 4,1 billion kWh, so the an increase would be a little under 25%.

    An overnight conversion will not take place. I'm counting on at least three decades. US electricity consumption grew by 80% in the past 3 decades. 25% doesn't seem like a big problem.
     
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  5. Having written that, there are of course a few gotchas.

    Local upgrades to the grid are likely necessary, since most of the demand increase will be in residential areas because it seems logical most most charging will take place overnight at home. Demand is low at night, so that is a nice fit.

    Vehicle chargers must be controllable (to a certain extent) by the power companies so they charge at the most opportune time. So the lighs will not go out if everyone comes home at 5 and plugs in their ev's. The car will not start charging rightaway, but wait until some time later at night and then start at a signal from the power company.

    Worrying about the grid is totally unnecessary.
     
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  6. Export the Renault Zoe to the North American market, Carlos! That and the Bollore BluCar are the first all-electric cars I'd really be interested in buying. But after reading the tech.specs on the Renault Zoe, it appears to have so much more built into it's computer system that will translate into a more vibrant and interesting driving experience. I am not in the market for a new car but I've been interested in all-electric car technology for the last 7 or 8 years or so. The Bollore and now the Zoe float to the top of my interest list, but mainly the brand new Renault Zoe. Build them in Mexico to save money, Carlos, and import them into America, please. I'm already on board wid it!
     
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  7. I guess I have to move to France to get a new Renault Zoe. I have no desire whatsoever to drive a dull looking Nissan product.
     
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  8. My concern is in having to rent a battery. I want to own the darn thing out right. No hooks or gotchas, please. Don't think that business model will last.
     
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  9. I still would love a Renault Zoe but because I live in the U.S. I'm stuck with an ugly Nissan Leaf. I don't really wanna be an "early adopter", anyway, because these new all-electrics don't travel far enough for me. I'll wait for better things later.
     
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