Ghosn: Nissan to Introduce Electric Car in 2010, Mass-Production in 2012

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn photo

The Slow Green Conversion of Carlos Ghosn
About 2 years ago, Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn wasn't too impressed with hybrid cars, saying that they are "a nice story, but they're not a a good business". Then a few months later, he announced that Nissan would license technology from Toyota for its Altima hybrid, and then develop its own hybrid technology. Now this year, Ghosn was heard saying that we needed "zero emission vehicles" to "prevent the world from exploding" (!), and that his preference was for electric cars.

Nissan Shareholder Meeting
The latest stage of Mr. Ghosn's conversion happened at Nissan's shareholder meeting. Ghosn said that Nissan, along with Renault, "has an opportunity to be a world leader in mass-marketing [zero-emission vehicles]." Ghosn said that he hopes to sell 1 million of electric cars a year globally, although without specifying a date. If this was American politics, he would be called a flip-flopper. Thankfully, in the real-world it's a good thing to be able to change your mind.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn photo

Ghosn added:

When I say "zero-emission" vehicles, I am referring to electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles, cars that do not burn oil and release zero emissions into the air. Fuel cell vehicles are promising for the future—and Nissan continues to invest in their development—but the production and distribution of hydrogen is yet much more problematic than electricity or batteries. Because the battery technology is more advanced, we will introduce electric vehicles first.

The way Nissan sees it, without the battery, an electric car could be priced similarly to a gasoline-powered car, so it would make sense to lease the battery.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn photo

Nissan's Electric Car: Introduction in 2010, Mass-Production in 2012
Nissan will introduce an electric car in the US and Japan in 2010, but global mass-market production will have to wait until 2012. "The Nissan-Renault Alliance has also signed agreements with Project Better Place to mass-market electric vehicles in Israel and Denmark in 2011, and is currently negotiating with other countries in Europe and Asia, Ghosn said."

In-house Hybrid Technology, Clean Diesel
The Altima hybrid used Toyota technology, but Nissan will introduce its own hybrid drivetrain in the US in 2010, along with a "clean diesel" Maxima.

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