Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn continues to be optimistic and ambitious about his company's mission to make Nissan and Renault electric vehicles (EVs) reach strong sales numbers in key global markets. In fact, he doesn't seem fazed that Nissan is selling fewer Leafs in the US this year compared to 2011. In fact, Ghosn retains the same mood and outlook for Nissan's overall
Ghosn sat down in Yokohama, Japan, at Nissan's headquarters, to answer questions from Automotive News Asia editor Hans Greimel, including how he sees the political strife between China and Japan causing anti-Japanese product backlash with Chinese consumers. It is an on-going concern, as is the financial downturn in Europe, but Ghosn sees the US market as a vital part of Nissan's near-term future.
Ghosn is not getting bummed out by lower-than-2011 sales for the Leaf in the US – reaching only 6,791 units sold through October versus the full year-target of 20,000 and the 8,048 sold in the first 10 months of last year. Global sales growth will come through mass marketing the electric Renault Zoe, three other Renault EVs, and "opening a lot of doors for the Leaf."
The Infiniti LE electric luxury car also plays into the marketing strategy.
Ghosn isn't concerned that his company has overinvested in EVs. Nissan thinks it will be selling 500,000 electric vehicles a year. For the short term, he's not backing off the claim that Nissan will sell 1.5 million electric vehicles across its brands by 2015.
Zero emissions, for me, is here to stay even though it's not selling as well as we thought... And this is totally normal, that we have at least one Infiniti car. It's obviously a flagship car, but it's also a car that will be developed and produced to sell.
As for global markets, he does see other countries as being far ahead of the US when it comes to promoting sustainability:
The Leaf is making the company more competitive and "putting our act together," Ghosn said.
We're following carefully what's going on in China. We're following very carefully the new incentives that are in France to encourage electric cars. No matter what, the United States is going to have to embrace electric cars in a way that is more sustainable. Japan is already doing it.