Nissan Loses Another High Power Exec And Lead EV Enthusiast In Andy Palmer

3 years ago by Jay Cole 34

Nissan Loses Their Number Two Guy - Andy Palmer To Aston Martin

Nissan Loses Their Number Two Guy – Andy Palmer To Aston Martin

Nissan has lost its Chief Planning Officer, and more importantly its main EV-proponent, behind CEO Carlos Ghosn, in the form of Andy Palmer today.

The company says that Renault Executive Vice President Philippe Klein will take over the CPO job (and Palmer’s Board seat) while Andy himself is moving to luxury automaker Aston Martin.

Mr. Palmer’s new job at Aston Martin?  Lord and King according to a statement released today:

Aston Martin Lagonda (“Aston Martin”) is pleased to announce that Aston Martin will appoint Andrew Palmer as its new Chief Executive Officer to lead the company in its next phase of technology and product creation.  Dr Palmer, 51, will join Aston Martin from Nissan Motor Corporation where he served as Chief Planning Officer.  Palmer will assume operational responsibility for all aspects of the business.

Over the past several years, Andy Palmer has been the face of all things plug-in (and pretty much everything as well) for Nissan and the last word on what the company will…and won’t do in the plug-in space.  We hope the new man – Philippe Klein shares the same pro-EV sentiments as his predecessor.

Some of Andy’s recent hits:

On hybrids“Simply hooking up your carriage to the world of hybridization doesn’t work. It doesn’t solve humanity’s problem because it still has an exhaust pipe. It’s still emitting emissions.”

On Nissan’s EV positioning“When it comes to zero emissions, we’re absolutely religious.  We’ll be the absolute, No. 1 leader in zero emissions. No doubt. That’s our positioning.”

On Next Gen LEAF/Infiniti LE/new battery chemistry – Infiniti LE (and new packs) in early 2017, LEAF shortly thereafter

Interestingly, it was almost a year to the day ago that Carlos Tavares left the top job at sister company Renault, forcing CEO Ghosn into double duty.   Mr. Palmer had also been doing double-duty as Infiniti’s CEO after Johan de Nysschen left abruptly to take over the top job at Cadillac in July.

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34 responses to "Nissan Loses Another High Power Exec And Lead EV Enthusiast In Andy Palmer"

  1. > lead the company in its next phase of technology and product creation.

    I have wondered which automaker would be the next to reach for “the Tesla effect” to achieve a new valuation.

    Aston Martin is a perfect candidate.

  2. DaveMart says:

    Nissan/Renault have lost buckets of money on wildly optimistic forecasts and over capacity for BEV production, and now are having to backtrack and also go for PHEVs.

    I’m not surprised he is off.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      This was definitely not Nissan’s choice in my opinion…they don’t seem prepared at all. Although they probably should have been..when Ghosn divided the exec power below him and put 5 direct reports to him last year instead of a straight line of command I think it caused issues.

      Even Andy himself had lamented the ceiling at the company and wanting to be a top guy. This makes three for three of the brand heads out since(Renault, Nissan, Infiniti)

      I think its a mistake to infer this is move was initiated by Nissan or is in any way related to Nissan’s EV program.

      Andy ran pretty much the entire show at Nissan – sales, marketing, product planning, etc – as well as holding down the fort at Infiniti in Johan’s absence. Overall, the BEV program was a very, very small part of what he did for the company. And he had been doing a very good job – Nissan has been wildly successful during his tenure.

      1. Alonso Perez says:

        Indeed, there were some reports in 2012 that Ghosn would retire at the end of the “power 88” plan in 2017. However, there has since been quite a bit less noise about this, which with the management changes last year that may indicate that Ghosn isn’t going anywhere.

        Ghosn may yet intend to retire in 2017, but he might have decided to avoid lame duck status (and loss of power), by consolidating his position. Or he may have pictured himself retired and recoiled in horror at the image. This is a very active man even for a CEO, comparable to Musk in that sense.

        Either way, Palmer may have figured there was a risk that Ghosn would stay on, or if not, that he has been ruled out as his successor.

    2. pjwood says:

      I’m betting Palmer doesn’t tell Aston to put a big, heavy diesel ahead of the front axle.

    3. Marshal G says:

      Go for PHEV’s? What model would that be? I’m not familiar with any such plans.

      1. DaveMart says:

        This one:

        ‘The all-new Nissan Qashqai will feature a plug-in hybrid powertrain that could achieve emissions as low as 40g/km, says executive vice-president Andy Palmer.

        A big incentive for producing the super-efficient Qashqai is to have a car that would ‘meet what we [Nissan] anticipate to be in-city air quality regulations’.’

        http://www.whatcar.com/car-news/nissan-qashqai-plug-in-hybrid-confirmed/1211420

        1. evnow says:

          Nissan has always said PHEVs are the way to go for larger cars.

          1. DaveMart says:

            Or FCEV’s.
            They are to make an FCEV by 2017 and were only waiting on the infrastructure.

            1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

              I bet Godot shows up first!

              1. DaveMart says:

                Nissan, unlike many battery car enthusiasts, has always been agnostic about what powers the electric motors in their cars.

                1. Nissan understands that they can meet consumer price requirements by keeping things simple and cheap. Including the fuel, and the fueling infrastructure.

                  Nissan wants to be a global auto leader, and that includes emerging markets. Not going to get there with $2m H2 stations when a DC QC will suffice.

                  1. DaveMart says:

                    You had better write and tell them that that is what they really think then.

                    Nothing that I have seen from Nissan indicates that.

                    For instance:
                    ‘No. 1 in Zero-Emission Vehicles: cumulative sales of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles across the Renault-Nissan Alliance. On behalf of the Alliance, Nissan will lead the development of an all-new fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) together with strategic partner, Daimler.’

                    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/10/nissan-20111024.html

                    And:

                    ‘Our challenge was to take Nissan’s strength in SUVs and crossovers forward into the zero-emissions era, fuel cells being our new frontier in zero emission mobility. Not big and tough for the desert, the aim was a new approach to SUVs that’s relevant to urban life. The unique diagonal seating layout that offers an exciting driving experience thanks to exceptional visibility that creates a sense of being in control under any conditions.’

                    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/09/terra-20120912.html

                    They don’t agree with you.

                    Deal with it, instead of indulging in entirely fantastical notions that they don’t really mean what they have clearly said.

                    1. I really do admire your persistence, DaveMart.

                      The stories that you link to about a concept FCV, and one about an alliance with Diamler are explained simply, honestly and powerfully by Carlos Ghosn himself here:

                      http://www.bloomberg.com/video/ghosn-questions-viability-of-fuel-cell-vehicles-wGPz0eXpTIqy3uNJvBXTUg.html

                      I think it’s pretty hard to watch this and come away believing that H2 vehicles are viable before 2030, and maybe not even then.

                      What I respect most about Ghosn and Musk is that they are willing to tell the truth and work on a real solution, the hard work, instead of hiding behind greenwashing.

                    2. DaveMart says:

                      Evi:
                      I admire your persistence in trying to write off what just about every car producer and every energy authority such as the DOE is actually doing.

                      From your linked video, at the end Ghosn said: ‘I don’t see a mass market for some time’.

                      Neither does anyone else.

                      If Nissan think that a mass market can never exist, OTOH, why are they pushing on with producing a fuel cell car at all?

                      Because they don’t know what will win.

                      Neither does anyone outside of blogs.

                      Clearly since they have BEVs for sale Nissan will try to downplay fuel cells, just as VW tried to downplay BEVs right up to the time they had one for sale.

                      What Ghosn is saying here is that he thinks fuel cell cars are longer term if they are viable at all.

                      Equally clearly by the actions of his company they do not discount fuel cells all together.

                      Perhaps you should not keep trying to re-write what others are saying to fit in with your own views.

                    3. > what just about every car producer and every energy authority such as the DOE is actually doing

                      What they are doing is research and development. Very small series production for testing and some PR value.

                      What they are not doing is mass production and marketing.

                      Ghosn points this out in plain language. I’m not sure how you spin it in your mind, but it’s a real stretch to make the case that H2 is viable in any way in the near term.

        2. DaveMart says:

          BTW, the success of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has no doubt made Nissan keen to get the CUV Qashqai PHEV on the road as soon as possible.

          Those in the US who don’t fancy Mitsubishi will cheer that on,

          1. Miggy says:

            Top 10 Selling Brands in Australia – August 2014
            1.Toyota – 15,638 sales – (down 11.9 percent)
            2.Holden/GM – 8635 – (down 18.6 percent)
            3.Hyundai – 8601 – (up 10.2 percent)
            4.Mazda – 7529 – (down 23.4 percent)
            5.Ford – 6908 – (up 11 percent)
            6.Mitsubishi – 5233 – (down 7.0 percent)
            7.Nissan – 5124 – (up 7.5 percent)
            8.Volkswagen – 4066 – (down 9.7 percent)
            9.Subaru – 2901 – (up 0.7 percent)
            10.Honda – 2759 – (down 16.5 percent)

            http://www.themotorreport.com.au/59736/vfacts-august-market-continues-slide-but-corolla-still-going-strong

  3. Yes, Andy was a huge proponent of the LEAF.

    He remarked during our January 2013 meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, that he could drive any Nissan car he wanted, including a Patrol. He drove a LEAF in Japan.

    Any “traditional” car guy would say that the LEAF is a huge failure with “only” 125,000 sales and should be scrapped immediately. There are at least two major reasons why that might not happen:

    1) Nissan borrowed $1.6 BILLION dollars from the US government for advanced propulsion cars. Yes, it could mean that there are more hybrids and the LEAF gets dumped, and Nissan uses hydrogen for CARB-ZEV compliance in California only from 2018-2025.

    2) Carlos is still a big proponent of electric, but he may be feeling the pressure to keep making more high profit margin cars (oil) and wait for the EV market to develop and mature with companies like Tesla at the helm.

    1. Alonso Perez says:

      Ghosn has one thing in common with Musk besides being an EV proponent, and that is that he does not yield easily, if ever. I fully expect Ghosn to double down on the Leaf with superior chemistry and styling, while continuing to expand the product footprint of Leaf-derived drive trains, such as the NV200 van/taxi.

      Ghosn always said he was uncertain about timing but the Leaf has as of late been able to demonstrate sustained demand after a slow start. People are figuring out just how cheap these cars are to run, and even if just 5% of potential car buyers find the range useful, that’s still a huge number, over 500K in the US alone per year. Personally, I think the number of people who drive within the Leaf’s round-trip radius 99% or 100% of the time is way higher than 5%. Probably closer to 20%.

  4. vdiv says:

    I expect an SLS AMG ED beater eVantage in my driveway by Easter 😉

    More on the news here: http://www.autonews.com/article/20140902/COPY01/309029977/nissan-exec-palmer-leaves-to-become-aston-martin-ceo

  5. GeorgeS says:

    Every time I saw Andy I thought he was really good.

    But what about GM’s Mahoney? Now there’s a guy that needs to leave.

  6. To understand why Nissan is in the electric car business, and will continue to be, take a look at some of the statements Carlos Ghosn made at the beginning of the program. He’s one of the few execs who realized that Nissan (or any other automaker) *could not meet emissions standards* unless they used electrification. He specifically references emerging markets and points to the air quality problems China is having as an indicator of what the future looks like if tough standards are not set and met.

    VW has also acknowledged that they can not meet upcoming European air quality standards (including CO2) without electrification.

    PHEVs are a viable interim solution but as soon as we have sufficient energy density, that ICE will be redundant.

  7. David Murray says:

    I am surprised that there are people questioning whether or not the Leaf will be continued or scrapped.. Seriously, Nissan is not leaving the EV game.

    My only question for Nissan is why it has focused all of its electrification strategy on essentially 1 car model. I think Ford has a better approach with 3 models, even if each model has fewer sales. It broadens the appeal of the technology and helps spread the cost over multiple models and thus improve economies of scale.

    I know Nissan has the e-nv2000 but I don’t expect that to be a high volume vehicle.

    1. DaveMart says:

      Nissan most certainly will not leave ‘the ev game’.

      However the approach they have used for getting into it has been costly, although not perhaps as costly as that of those who have entirely stood aloof.

      Pioneers often get the arrows, and Nissan is no exception.

      Economically the rather inglorious approach of VW of later entry is likely to have been optimal.

      Around a century earlier GM won out with the same approach over Ford.

  8. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    When I see Andy Palmer’s name, all I think is Arizona Denial.

    1. DaveMart says:

      That sounds like a film with Charles Bronson in it! 😉

  9. bill howland says:

    Not a big fan of Palmer…..

    If you had trouble in Tucson, he was the one who said the problem was misadjusted gauges…

    I’m the type of guy who once a person lies to me, I never trust anything he ever says again.

  10. Ryan says:

    Nissan. Mitsubishi. Suzuki. They are just clueless. Are they hopeless too? How many years have they been building cars?

    Cheapest cars, fastest cars, best cars? What sets them apart and makes them desirable? They just really don’t get it. They think they can just build whatever and sell it at whatever price and it will just magically sell. There is no soul or passion in any of these companies or products. Never owned anything from any of them and likely never will. And they don’t care. That’s also how they all feel about being the best or being number one.

    What if any of the three made the highest MPG vehicles? Made vehicles more desirable than Camry and Civic/Accord? Better cars, more performance, lower price.

    Lead the field in electric vehicles? No they just like mediocre instead.

    Mitsubishi could sell the well selling Outlander PHEV in 49 states but they are too scared. Can’t make any money doing it that way.

    You should see the local(only) Mitsu dealer. They have about 11 cars for sale scattered around the lot.

    They have the MiEV that is a step up from being a NEV(no joke). They COULD have an electric Eclipse that could beat Lamborghini on all metrics – Top speed, 1/4 mile, handling(skid pad/track). If it’s the best and the fastest; it will sell. Go all the way or just go out of business already. Pull a Suzuki and get out of here and stop bothering us.

    1. ggpa says:

      I doubt this is true …

      “Mitsubishi could sell the well selling Outlander PHEV in 49 states but they are too scared”

      Mitsu has no problem selling every Outlander PHEV they can make. I can understand if they do not want to expand into the US market right now.

      1. True. The USA will get a redesigned Outlander plug-in.

    2. Phr3d says:

      I see your point, IMHO Elon gets much of his (continuing, fanboi?) cred in that he Did have the gall to buck the system. Years later all we hear is that Tesla didn’t invent Anything and Tesla never delivers on time, and..

      So the chickenshyts continue to win — go VW, give us another brilliant for China city-BEV.

  11. ggpa says:

    DaveMart linked an interesting statistic …

    “Cumulative sales of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles across the Renault-Nissan Alliance.”

    Does anybody know the breakdown of the 1.5 million number. All of them zero emission?

    That number looks wrong and way too high. Or am I missing something?

    1. That was an aspirational goal which Nissan concedes will take “2-3 more years” to achieve. It was from Nissan’s 2011 six-year environmental plan.

      It doesn’t actually support Davemart’s thesis, but what’s a little misdirection among friends.