Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn confident that China will save the electric car

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 26, 2013

Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn is confident that because of the automaker’s plans in China, its industry investments in electric car will soon pay off. The automaker has a large stake on battery-powered motoring. Ghosn, who is the most committed to this technology compared to other mass-market automakers, was quite optimistic upon introducing Renault's Zoe into the market in Europe, where there are very few electric car chargers available and where customer response has been unenthusiastic.

When interviewed, Ghosn said that the company will be able to sustain its investments due to its plans in China to reach a production capacity for two million electric cars and plug-in hybrids by 2020. The automaker has started deliveries of the Zoe in Europe last week.

Ghosn asserts that he isn’t merely making speculations and that the China government’s decisions are “among the most audacious” that any country has taken. Even when the U.S. and Europe governments have provided substantial subsidies, sales of its electric cars have fallen below expectations three years since the Nissan Leaf was introduced.

This means that China is left as the last hope for many enthusiasts even when there’s rising scepticism about Beijing’s goals. The setting up of charging networks is also waning. Of the around 20,000 public chargers in Europe, a big number are in Germany.

This prompted Renault to give away expensive equipment in France, which currently has just about 4,000 public chargers. Since 2011, Renault has presented three electric models and has sold 16,000 units last year. On the other hand, Nissan (its 43.4%-owned Japanese affiliate) reached sales of 26,973 units for the Leaf, which is 20% lower than its goal.

In Cascais, Portugal, Ghosn attended a Zoe test-drive event where he didn’t state any objectives for sales or production in Flins, west of Paris. Renault has invested in this facility to build 150,000 vehicles each year. Ghosn said that the company simply isn’t keen to share its targets and that he doesn’t want to imply that there’s something wrong with the strategy if it fails to meet targets.

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