In late March of this year, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and some members of his leadership team hosted a wide-ranging media roundtable at the New York International Show. In this excerpt from that briefing, Ghosn discusses some of the reasons why he believes the Leaf and other electric cars will ultimately become a big part of the market.
"We know this is a breakthrough technology, we know this is a breakthrough car and we’re just going have to be extremely patient and resilient and remove the obstacles one after the other. When we started this effort on the electric car, the first challenge for us was to build credibility for the car itself because in the mind of many consumers, an electric car was a golf cart. Zero emission yes, but everything else was wrong.
Well, this first challenge is solved today. People driving the Leaf know it’s a real car. Acceleration, driving performance, silence, everything —it’s a real car. [...] All the people who bought the Leaf are very happy about the Leaf. We have a lot of engagement into the car and people participating, even making suggestions about what should be changed [...]
Now, a lot of people testing the Leaf are not buying it. So when we ask them, “Why are you not buying the car,” first they say it’s still too expensive. So we are listening to this and we are reducing the price and will continue to reduce the price as a function of the cost.
The first major thing happened by localizing the Leaf and the battery in the United States. [...] That’s the first big move in terms of cost reduction because you’re moving this from Japan to the United States. [...] Now you’re localizing and you benefit immediately from a big drop in the cost and now you’re going to have a lot of productivity gains, rationalizing taking place.
Number two, people say, “We want more charging infrastructure. We need to make sure that if we need to recharge the car, there are plenty of places to go.” Here, we are doing our own efforts plus we are lobbying cities, states and governments in order to do that. [...] What’s interesting is that governments are playing the game. Nothing forced governments to give $7,500 in incentives to buy an electric car, or $8,000 in Japan or $9,000 in China. Nobody forced them to do that.
They are doing it because they want zero-emission technology to emerge. They want this to happe