Nissan North America Chairmam José Muñoz is now also leading — at least on an interim basis — the operations of the company's Infiniti brand after the departure of Nissan Motor Co. Chief Planning Officer Andy Palmer for Aston Martin. Palmer had been filling in for Johan de Nysschen, who in July left Infiniti for Cadillac. Hans Greimel at Automotive News has the rundown and addresses chatter about a larger brain drain at Nissan's mothership.
Nissan executives have unveiled their vision for where electric cars might go in the future. Building on the technology they've brought to market with the Leaf, they are promising "a fresh electric vehicle driving experience based on peerless technology and exotic styling" with the BladeGlider concept.
With its narrow, 1.0 meter lightweight front track and wide, stable rear track, BladeGlider looks as if it could have sprung from a "skunk works" project. But the radical architecture all boils down to aerodynamics and balance. Having the front wheels close together reduces drag and enhances maneuverability for high G cornering power, assisted by its 30/70 front/rear weight distribution ratio.
This summer, research firm Booz & Co. polled about 200 auto executives from 75 companies — OEMs, suppliers and dealers — about various industry topics. On the whole, the respondents were pretty darn bullish about things. But that doesn't mean they expect the rising tide to lift all boats equally. Asked about how they expect brands to add or lose market share, they said Volkswagen/Audi and Hyundai/Kia will fare best. But projected to be among the biggest losers is Franklin-based Nissan. Nearly a third of respondents said they see the brand and its Infiniti sibling losing share by 2018. Only Subaru scored worse in that category.
To view the wide-ranging Booz report, click here.
Nissan executives today unveiled the ZEOD RC, a Le Mans-class prototype that will rely in part on the same electric drive technology in the company's Leaf model. The new car builds on the work Nissan did last year with the Deltawing car. The company has brought on board full-time Ben Bowlby, the lead designer of that vehicle, as its director of motorsports innovation.
"The ZEOD RC program is designed to develop multiple technologies to evaluate how they could be used for a future LM P1 class return of Nissan at the Le Mans 24 Hour. There are multiple options we are investigating. A Zero Emission on Demand option where the driver can switch between electric and petrol-powered drive is a future direction for road cars, so that will be tested in addition to pure electric power and other new technologies that we still have under development."
Talking to reporters last week, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said many consumers still don't have enough trust in electric-car technology to buy a Leaf or one of its competitors. But he says the auto maker's $5 billion bet on electric cars is still the way to go and that the Leaf's slow ramp "isn't going to shake the foundation of Nissan."
Nissan's top executives have cut their full-year earnings outlook 20 percent after a China-Japan dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea led to a backlash against its cars in China, which accounts for almost a third of all its sales. One bright spot in the announcement is that sales in the United States and elsewhere helped offset some of the losses in China.
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