Entry-Level and Electric Cars in US, Says Nissan’s Ghosn

By Brendan Moore

11.16.2009

Nissan logo - smallIn a wide-ranging interview given to two reporters from Automotive News (paid subscription required), Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has stated that he sees some small entry-level vehicles in the US market from Nissan in the future, and the continued development of the electric car market, starting with the 2010 launch of the Nissan Leaf EV.

Ghosn noted that Nissan does not want to abandon the entry-level price point segment to other automakers in the US, and therefore is intent on bringing a couple of sub-$10,000 cars from Nissan’s Mexican production facilities into the US market. He was not more specific than that, but there is an existing car or two made in Mexico now that would fit the bill in this instance, most notably the Nissan Aprio, which is a Nissan clone of the Renault Logan, the entry-level car that has set sales records in Europe for the past few years.

The Nissan CEO was asked if he foresaw low-cost cars manufactured in India coming to the United States, as Renault-Nissan is starting to do in Europe, and Ghosn replied that he didn’t see that happening since it wasn’t Nissan’s preference, and that the production facilities in Mexico were a better choice in terms of cars sold in the US owing to proximity and currency exchange issues.

Ghosn had a fair amount to say about electric car (EV) sales in the US in the upcoming decade.

2011 Nissan Leaf

For those of you that follow the auto industry, it is quite obvious that Nissan, like a few other auto companies, has decided to more or less “leapfrog” hybrids and go right to the EV. Nissan has a hybrid platform that is offered currently, but it is a placeholder – Nissan is putting all of their non-gasoline-engine R&D resources into EV technology. The first result of those efforts is the Nissan Leaf, which will be launched next year in the US, and launched globally in 2012. Ghosn said that Nissan wants leadership on EVs, and is making a large bet on the technology and the market appetite for electric vehicles in the United States in the next decade.

Although he wouldn’t be pinned down on a number, Ghosn sees a significant part of theCarlos Ghosn - medium American market captured by EV sales by 2015, and thinks Americans, particularly young Americans, will embrace EV technology in the next ten years. He wants Nissan to be out in front of this next technology adoption wave.

On another subject, Ghosn stated in the same interview that Nissan sees the overall US auto market coming back gradually over the new few years, but said it will be “a very long time” before the market returns to an annual rate of 15 million units.

He also noted that the US dollar’s continuing devaluation against the Japanese yen makes profit forecasting difficult and also makes the case for moving more vehicle production to the US and Mexico more compelling by the day. Ghosn also left the door wide open on the possibility of exporting Nissan production from the US and Mexico to other markets in the world.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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9 Comments

  1. IMO, I think this is the right strategy.

  2. The Nissan Aprio (nee Renault Logan) would sell a lot of units in the United States.

    Cannot understand why this no_brainer move is taking so long.

  3. I am happy to see that one of the big car companies is embracing electric vehicle technology. The more electric vehicles there are on the road, the more charging infrastructure there will be, and the more charging infrastructure there is, the more electric vehicles there will be on the road, and on and on and on.

    It is a self-fulfilling environment. I’m loving that.

  4. With the electric car, we got to upgrade the electric grid network who begin to age and I guess we have to dust-off some old proposed projects like the Great Whale River hydro-dam project in the James Bay area.

    And on a off-topic note, Nissan still wants to keep the Titan running alone or with another automaker since the Chrysler deal aborted http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2009/11/nissans-ghosn-says-titan-to-keep-on-truckin.html

  5. The grid network is fine. What needs to occur is that power outlets and recharging stations need to be set up. The national utility grid is more than adequate.

  6. If I was running a car company, I would skip hybrids at this point, too.

    BTW, this would be perfect timing for starting a new car company that made only EV’s.

  7. Ghosn looks like he’s turning Japanese, looks like he’s turning Japanese, I really think so…

  8. Neiderlinn: he really kinda does.

  9. Neiderlinn, ROTFL!

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