Adversity Won't Shake Ghosn's ResolveThose of you who have seen Revenge of the Electric Car know just how determined and calculating Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's CEO, is about electric cars. For a long time he invested a massive amounts of resources into their development without bragging publicly about it to get a head-start on his competitors, and his multi-billion-dollar bet basically amounts to betting his career - and maybe the whole company - on the eventual electrification of automobiles.
During a recent speech in the U.S., Mr. Ghosn described the challenges that Nissan faced in the past 2-3 years: "He pointed to five crises that affected the company: financial turmoil in the United States; the sovereign debt crisis in Europe; the strong yen; the March earthquake in northeastern Japan; and the recent flooding in Thailand."
Just one of these crises would have been challenging for any company. But through all of it, Nissan and Ghosn kept their focus on electric cars in general and the LEAF more specifically. In fact, Ghosn said that his top priority after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami was to keep the LEAF on track.
There's little doubt that the LEAF is just the first of many steps in a long-term strategy for Nissan. Once production of the battery packs and cars is fully ramped up, Nissan will be able to reduce costs. Incremental battery technology improvements will increase the electric driving range of each generation, until it can meet the needs of even more drivers, and more EV models will no doubt broaden the appeal even more (electric sedans, crossovers, etc). As I always say, it's still better to walk, bike, take transit, etc.. But as long as there are cars on the roads, I'd rather have them be running on electricity (especially as we clean up the power grid) rather than burning fossil fuels inefficiently.