Ghosn says Nissan needs to step up EV plan to stay competitive


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TOKYO – Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, the former electric vehicle pioneer who jumped into the tech with overly optimistic expectations a decade ago, has said the time has finally come to jump into electric vehicles, when he calls his old company visionless. in this new era.

Ghosn said new entrants to the industry, including Tesla and entrants from China, have an advantage over incumbents, and he warned that old-guard companies like Nissan need to be faster to stay competitive in a rapidly changing landscape.

“The speed of change will determine who wins,” Ghosn said during an online press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, where the ousted auto veteran spoke last week on the release of his recent book in one edition in Japanese.

Ghosn spoke from his home in Beirut, where he lives as an international fugitive. He has been indicted four times in Japan on allegations of financial misconduct and fled the country hiding in an oversized musical equipment suitcase two years ago this month.

Ghosn, who maintains his innocence, said today’s electric buzz justifies his early – perhaps too soon – decision to popularize electric vehicles by launching the Nissan Leaf hatchback in 2010. Nissan planned to sell hundreds thousands of electric vehicles over the following years, but the demand never materialized. .

“When I launched the first consumer electric car,” Ghosn recalls, “like you know everyone was laughing at us, you know you’re lost.”

But now, he said, as other automakers join the race and invest hundreds of billions of dollars in electric vehicles, the mood is different.

“When you see the investments going on, I don’t think it’s too much,” he said.

“The market is moving with the right amount of money at the right speed. We are going 100% electric,” said Ghosn, pointing to Tesla’s stratospheric market value, which has eclipsed $ 1,000 billion this year. “The market tells you that we are completely forgetting the combustion engine.”

Ghosn added that he performs electrified mobility consultancy work from Lebanon.

And he said Chinese entrants in particular are betting big on electric vehicles because they are lagging behind in the auto industry and need to invest in the latest and greatest technologies to be competitive.

“The Chinese are going to play wonderfully with electrification,” he said.

Ghosn’s optimistic outlook came after Nissan unveiled plans to spend nearly $ 18 billion to electrify about 50% of its global volume by 2030. But Ghosn said the pace was too slow.

“They’re really in a really bad position in this race,” Ghosn said of Nissan, delivering one of countless pot shots during the speech. “There is no vision. They don’t know where they are going. They have no picture of this huge technological transformation that is happening.”

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