Executive Face Of Nissan LEAF, Mark Perry “Retires” Today

5 years ago by Jay Cole 12

Mark Perry And A Nissan LEAF

Amidst all the recent turmoil surrounding the Nissan LEAF and battery capacity loss in Arizona, Nissan chief spokesman Dave Reuter, said yesterday that Mark Perry, who is Nissan’s Director of Product Planning and Advanced Technology (at least for a little longer), is retiring today.

Mr. Perry, due to his engaging nature, was for all purposes, the executive face of the Nissan LEAF.

Here Mark Famously Talks About It Being OK to Park in 110F Car Lots, But Not Death Valley For "A Week"

Personally, Mark had been one of my “go to guys” at Nissan, and some of the very famous quotes on battery capacities often repeated from Nissan, I was told by Mark.

Rightly or wrongly, Mr. Perry was also the strongest/most noted defender behind the battery capacity loss over the summer, and was the first to announce that the testing in Casa Grande, showed no significant issues with the LEAF battery, saying LEAF owners should still expect “a glide path” to 76% in LEAF batteries found in Phoenix.

Mark had also suggested there may be some owner fault, due to high mileage or other treatment of the LEAF, in the extreme ‘battery bar loss’ cases that had been tested.

Unlike many other executives I have spoken to over the years, Mark seemed to honestly care about the industry, and even if his statements did not always ring true after final inspection, I always got the impression he truly believed in what he was saying.

Recently Nissan sent out an open letter to LEAF owners, updating them on the results of corporate testing on low capacity LEAFs, but also the formation of a independent advisory board (to be headed Chelsea Sexton) to help Nissan communicate with customers and the media better:

Carla Bailo, Senior VP of Research & Development said, “our hope is that they would hold up a mirror to us and help us to be more open and approachable in our communication and to advise us on our strategy.”

Today’s decision by Mark, would seem to fly in the face of that statement.

For what it is worth, I was contacted by Nissan’s Corporate Communications some time ago after speaking to Mr. Perry (and getting some nice quotes from the exec) saying “we’ve asked him (Mark Perry) to forward all media inquiries to the PR team. In the future, please send any requests to XXXX or myself and we can get the answers for your quickly.”

Nissan’s Chief Spokesman (Dave Reuter) goes to lengths to include the fact that Perry’s retirement had been planned “for months,” but we can’t help but suspect that, while that may be true, LEAF public relations problems on the ground have also been going on “for months” as well. Mark is 55.

For myself, I wish Mark all the best, and hope his retiring was of his own choosing, and not from pressure from Nissan. Mark is a rare bird in the auto industry, an executive who will say exactly what he means, and has the confidence to repeat what is said behind closed corporate doors to the public. Perhaps that was his undoing.

On the LEAF’s first introduction to the market in 2009, when Mark was asked how he was involved with the car: “I’m responsible for bringing the product to market, so, I’m the car guy.” 

Yes, you were.

Perhaps Mark will abruptly end his retirement like Tony Posawatz (who ran the Volt program at Chevrolet), who famously “retired” from GM to “spend time near the ocean” and with his family, only to resurface 6 weeks later as Fisker’s CEO.

Video below: Mark Perry on battery performance and warranty back in March before Arizona issues arose…check out 3:30 of the video for some famous quotes on the LEAF, 110 degree heat, and Death Valley:

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12 responses to "Executive Face Of Nissan LEAF, Mark Perry “Retires” Today"

  1. MrEnergyCzar says:

    Very clever that battery capacity loss isn’t covered under warranty. Even if you lose 50% after 3 years…. I believe the Volt warranteed the battery to meet certain capacity milestones as it ages. Liquid cooling helps.

    MrEnergyCzar

    1. SPIKE says:

      MrEnergyCzar,
      Chevy was legally required to warranty the Volt battery capacity in order to meet Federal Emmissions requirements.

      The 2011 Chevy Volt does not even qualify as a Super Ultra Low Emmissions vehicle!

      1. MrEnergyCzar says:

        I think any car that plugs in should have a battery capacity warranty. Is the 2013 Leaf battery going to be liquid cooled?

        MrEnergyCzar

    2. Mark H says:

      Maybe a better question, is does any other EV fail to offer a battery capacity warranty? I am certain Nissan will solve this with their 2nd Gen battery shortly, but this certainly was a weak point in the first release.

  2. Lyle Dennis says:

    Yup smells like a controversy to me. He loved what he was doing. Remember you heard it here folks!

  3. scott yarish says:

    Looks like Mason, me, Tony, and the rest of the very publicly vocal leaf group cost this “pour man” his job. I feel really bad that my actions may have, in part, forced him into early retirement. What’s Mr Perry going to do now that he doesn’t work at Nissan anymore. Maybe he will start a new job as “Truth in Marketing ” for B.P. or Exxon.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Sometime decent people get tangled up in a bad situation, and get caught between a rock and a hard place, that was my own impression of Mark during his time with Nissan over the past 6 months.

      Not necessarily the right opinion, you never really know, but I try my best to cover the situation at hand the best I know.

      It can be tricky working for a big corpration, even more tricky when it is internationally based, making US operations/executive more an implementer of a plan, rather than a decider of a plan.

  4. Jamie says:

    I think Mark has been at Nissan for 30 years and I’ll bet he’s been planning his retirement for quite awhile. Maybe he spoke out more because he was a “short timer” but he always seemed like he cared about the cars as much as the rest of us.
    – A Happy Leaf Owner

  5. MyLeaf says:

    BEST NEWS YET. SAYONARA MARK!

  6. Stan Stein says:

    In Corporate life there all too often needs to be a fall guy. People above Perry are more responsible than Perry for the PR fiasco. The Leaf is an extraordinary car and achievement for Nissan. However, over promising and under performing leads to the P R issues they currently have. If they had under promised and overproduced on range they could have better managed expectations. Despite this hi cup, I still love my Leaf and it has performed better than I expected. I hope Nissan will move ahead with their next generation battery that will give more range or alternatively give customers the option of a bigger battery pack. Range is at the heart of the issues surrounding the Leaf. If the Leaf had a true world 125 miles of range, Nissan would not have had the intensity of dissatisfaction it has in the hot climate areas.
    Once Nissan realized they had a problem, All could have been better managed with better crisis management. They needed to immediately jump into the hot climate issues and satisfy customers immediately,instead of letting things fester. They could have minimized the fallout, bought time to solve the hot climate issue, and maintained the trust of their customers

  7. Stuart22 says:

    Perry always seemed like he was forcing the optimism he tried to show with the LEAF; I suspected he was hiding a measure of denial with it all. This denial showed up big time with his attempts at excusing the battery issues as normal and nothing to fuss about.

    I wonder if Nissan agreed to some sort of golden parachute to keep him from blowing the whistle on those still with Nissan who were involved with their fatal decision to go the cheap route with the battery.

  8. Spooka says:

    I am a lucky Phoenix Leaf owner. I just got my battery test back from Nissan last week. I was informed all was normal and I was treating the battery as Nissan suggested. I have put 1,000 mile per month on my car which Nissan considers regular mileage. I lost 2 capacity bars at 13,300 miles and 13.3 months. This represents a 21.25% loss of capacity per the Nissan repair manual. High mileage is the culprit? Gimme a break Nissan. Please take my lemon back as I have asked you to do!