Carlos Ghosn Won’t Commit To Staying On As Nissan Boss. Will Successor Back EVs As Much?

5 years ago by Jay Cole 11

Carolos Ghosn Casts a Big Shadow At Renault-Nissan

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says that the current mid-term plan is all the Japanese automaker can count on, which translated by the Japanese code of the way things are done, he will be moving on at the end of this five year stint.

So as not to shock the market (and Nissan’s investors) spokesman Koji Okuda had this warning:

“Ghosn has said this is the last mid-term plan he’ll commit to, meaning he may not stay here for the next mid-term period. We need to prepare for his possible departure within a five-year period.”

How Popular Is He? Ghosn Had His Own Comic Book

Whoever succeeds Ghosn has some huge, almost impossible shoes to fill. Carlos not only has a outstanding record with the company, but he is something of a cultural rock star in both Japan and Europe.

Ghosn took over the head job at Renault in 1996, where he earned the nickname “Le Cost Killer,” by fine tuning the operation’s processes by over 3 billion Euros. In 1999, he leveraged the new found power of Renault to buy a controlling stake in, what was considered at the time to be a dying company, in Nissan.

Bob Lutz, CEO and chairman at Exide  at the time, said that Ghosn “would have been better off dumping cash into the ocean,” a comment he would come to regret saying later.

But it was what came next for the Renault-Nissan alliance that really interests us here. Sometime in 2007, at the beginning of Nissan’s last ‘5 Year Plan’ (and Ghosn’s 4th), the Brazilian born CEO bet all his prior successes on building electric cars, budgeting over $6 billion to develop and produce the electric technology to get pure EVs into the common man’s hands.  Key to this process included building his own batteries in house by starting a joint venture with NEC called AESC. Today, with the start of production in Sunderland (UK), AESC produces more lithium ion batteries for use in automobiles than all other companies combined.

Carlos Didn't Just Bring EVs to Market During His Tenure, He Also Brought the Supercar to the Masses As Well

From that commitment, the Renault-Nissan alliance has given birth to the Nissan LEAF, Renault Fluence ZE, Kangoo ZE (utility van), and Twizy ZE (soon to be also rebadged a Nissan), with the Nissan e NV200 (van),  Renault Zoe, and a luxury EV from Infiniti (the LE) to hit the market over the next 3 to 15 months.

One of Ghosn’s most notable moments was that he was asked by current US President Barack Obama to take over the reigns at General Motors and lead that company into profitability. However, Ghosn felt he was only getting started with his real design for Renault-Nissan at the time, and turned down the offer “without hesitation.”

Carlos Tavares, Being Groomed to Take Over Renault-Nissan?

This current 5 year term, coined the “Power 88 Plan” doesn’t expire until March of 2017, so Renault-Nissan’s short term commitment to electric cars is not in doubt, but a impeding change at the top can mean a drastic change in corporate direction.

The front runner at this point is assumed to be the Chief Operation Officer at Renault, Carlos Tavares, who was recently head of Nissan America, making him intimately familiar with the entire company.

We have had many conversations over the years about Nissan’s electric vehicles and where the company was heading with Mr. Tavares, and if he is indeed the future of Renault-Nissan, we believe the electric drive of the company will continue to be very strong.

There will be an informal update about the coming changes at the top of the management ladder at the next annual meeting of the shareholders on June 26. We expect even more foreshadowing of Ghosn’s departure.

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11 responses to "Carlos Ghosn Won’t Commit To Staying On As Nissan Boss. Will Successor Back EVs As Much?"

  1. Stuart22 says:

    So when is Ghosn going to deal with the growing discontent among LEAF owners regarding premature battery capacity loss? People are getting mad at Nissan for their ostrich-like behavior, and the whole EV industry is concerned there will be negative fallout from this.

    1. backstroke says:

      See you’ve brought us your doom and gloom over from the GM Volt forum. Talk about blowing an issue out of all proportion. You talk like ever other LEAF has a battery problem, and that all will in short order be undriveable due to a battery without range. Yet by all accounts its only a small number of vehicles in very specific hot geographies, and that the cars range is hardily impaired.

      Do you think Nissan aren’t monitoring this, do Nissan no longer receive data back from each vehicle reporting on its use and status of the battery? Guess not as far as you are concerned.

      Yes there is a problem, but please lets discuss it with some level or accuracy.

      1. Stuart22 says:

        I apologise if you are disappointed, but people are concerned this problem you acknowledge may blow up in proportions not to the benefit of EVs in general. If you believe a class action lawsuit against Nissan, which a number of LEAFers are talking about is ‘blowing an issue out of proportion’, you might consider checking your priorities….

        “Love my Leaf, but very curious to see what happens with the hot weather Leaf issue. I have lost around 15% of my capacity in less than a year, which is unacceptable, especially with promises of 80% capacity left at 5 years. There’s absolutely no way my Leaf will still have 80% capacity unless I stop driving it right now. I had worried about the thermal management issue when we bought the car, but was assured that it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, it’s a problem. I live in Phoenix and I hope the folks at Nissan are listening and respond quick, before they have a class-action suit on their hands, and nobody wants that.”

        Ghosn is central to the problems happening, and his company’s handling of the matter is pitiful. It’s time the ‘rockstar’ finds his voice on this matter.

        A

  2. Shawn Marshall says:

    It is beneficial when insightful executives like Ghosn & Lutz gat a chance to make an impact on the car industry BUT the future of (X)EVs will really be determined by future battery improvements in capacity and cost.
    When EVs can win in the marketplace, they will.
    Still waiting for inexpensive solar cells myself.

    1. James says:

      Problem is Shawn – that if many of us wait for the technology to be perfected – it won’t ever be perfected.

      One has to realize the absolute battleground that exists between old convention and change. Granted, many of us just can’t dish out over $20,000 for a new car, but many who state they’ll wait until the tech improves will have to understand the industry will not invest in new research unless their present models are showing the promise of profits int he present term.

  3. James says:

    Big picture thought: If Ghosn is a free agent, there’s still a chance he’ll end up landing a job at one of the major auto companies. GM would be a major possibility.

    Ghosn is an imposing force on the industry. Think of a Brazillian Bob Lutz, or the auto equivelant of LeBron James. Whichever company can lure him will immediately see an impact upon his arrival. Bob left is mark wherever fortune took him. Chrysler could quickly gain “green” cred of which it has zero – GM could estabish itself as THE leader in alt-energy transportation.

    General Motors plans on introducing new plug-in options for 2015. This would dovetail nicely with new CEO Ghosn who would cement to us all GM’s committment to save the world while making a “crapload” ( thanks Priya from Volt’s ad campaign ) of money in the process.

    1. James says:

      My point being – instead of focusing on the paranoia that a Ghosn departure from Nissan-Renault would mean the end of the electric car as we know it. We could be focusing on his impact on the industry if and when he lands a job at another automaker.

      Of course, he could end up heading a tech or energy corporation, but car companies that don’t try to snag him are literally crazy in the noggin’.

      1. James says:

        Reply to my reply – lol.

        Imagine a Hyundai with Ghosn at the helm…..OH EM GEE! This would send shockwaves through the industry. We’d see Ford suddenly sounding like TESLA!
        We’d see previous companies satisfied with building compliance EVs ( hello – Honda? hello – Chrysler? Hello Mercedes? ) begin to really get serious about making viable mass-produced plug-ins.

        A Ghosn departure and re-hire could be the best news for EVs since Tesla got it’s government loan.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          You can bet that he won’t retire to green pastures…he probably already has designs on what he will do next

  4. vdiv says:

    Carlos Gone (ha-ha, not funny!) certainly has a tiny (still not funny!) Napoleonic complex. Whatever he does next will not be small (cut it out!).

    As the Chinese proverb says, “May you live in interesting times!” We certainly do.

  5. Shawn Marshall says:

    It’s about the battery – not some Ghostn.