Carlos Ghosn Nissan CEO On Electric Vehicles, Fuel Cells From New York

2 years ago by Mark Kane 36

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan and Renault CEO, was present at the 2016 NYIAS sharing his thoughts on electric cars and autonomous driving.

Carlos Ghosn at the 2016 NYIAS

Carlos Ghosn at the 2016 NYIAS

Above is the first of three videos, which centers on the general introduction presentation (EV discussion begins at 6:30).

Ghosn noted that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is leading the industry with more than 300,000 EVs sold globally, and that Nissan LEAF is the best selling pure electric model with over 200,000 sales.

By 2020 Nissan intends to introduce also 10 models with “significant Autonomous Drive functionality” and we believe that includes autonomous LEAFs, which are often used as development prototypes.

Ghosn’s comments:

“There are several reasons to be bullish about EVs’ future:

  • To deal with the threat of climate change, the world is demanding that our industry invest more in zero-emissions transportation;
  • Governments around the world are imposing stricter limits on CO2 emissions … and one major response has to be electrification;
  • But beyond environmental regulation, EVs just make sense.

We have already seen within the Alliance how the cost of EVs continues to go down as their economies of scale begin to inch closer to those enjoyed by the internal combustion engine.

EVs are also relatively simple machines:  A battery and electric motors.  They require far less service, no oil changes and they are extremely reliable.

With battery technology improving and the charging infrastructure expanding in much of the world, we are nearing the turning point where EVs will become more of a mainstream option.

There’s been another important change since I last spoke here: In 2012, no one was talking about Autonomous Drive vehicles.

In January, I visited Nissan’s Silicon Valley R&D offices in California. I spent considerable time driving around the streets of Sunnyvale – hands-free and with my eyes off the road.

Autonomous Drive cars that can change lanes on their own, negotiate city streets and handle the drudgery of stop-and-go traffic are coming soon. In fact, the Renault-Nissan Alliance will launch at least 10 models with significant Autonomous Drive functionality by 2020.

Those cars will be far more connected than those on the road today.  They will be a much more personal space, an extension of ourselves – just as smartphones are today.

And the EV is the perfect platform for the future of Autonomous Drive and connected vehicle technology, which will, in turn, help accelerate the adoption of EVs.

The trend toward more connected cars is also critical to meet the expectations of our future buyers, those who are just getting their driver’s licenses today.

The benefits of highly connected, Autonomous Drive cars are clear:  They hold the promise of making driving far safer, less stressful, more efficient and more rewarding.  And as we did with our EVs, Nissan and the Alliance will aim these future cars at the heart of the mass market – in line with our drive toward “Mobility for All.”

Carlos Ghosn Q&A at 2016 NYIAS Opening Breakfast – 9:30 – 13:50

In the Q&A Opening Breakfast (video above: from 9:30 to 13:50),  Ghosn said that in his opinion, electric cars are the only existing technology to reach emission targets, and he believes in the mass electrification as the only viable solution.

Of interest is also his comments on hydrogen fuel cell cars (13:00), which are “another option” to battery electric vehicles. Ghosn said that if we think we have problem with charging infrastructure for EVs (thousands of charging points that are still not enough), just imagine problems with the hydrogen infrastructure with maybe just 10-15 refueling stations in operation today the U.S.

Carlos Ghosn Media Roundtable Session – 2016 NYIAS – 10:30

Nissan Gripz concept

Nissan Gripz concept

In the media roundtable session, questions about the electric Infiniti returned (10:30), and the answer is that Nissan-Renault are focusing on the mass market. No high-end EVs in near term it seems.  So we can finally cross the premium LEAF Infiniti LE off the list?

Ghosn hinted although  at an electrified crossover. We’d bet on a plug-in hybrid crossover as Nissan has been showing off product like the Gripz concept of late.

Around 13:00 Carlos Ghosn admitted that Nissan probably underestimated the reluctance of consumers to switch to the electric cars, but points to the insufficient charging infrastrucutre environment.

The prices of BEVs also still need to be lower (mainly through lower cost batteries).

At 26:30 Ghosn discussed was very interesting topic of LEAF residual value, while at the 33:00 mark it is noted that there no plans to bring EVs to the oil center of the world – the Middle East.



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36 responses to "Carlos Ghosn Nissan CEO On Electric Vehicles, Fuel Cells From New York"

  1. notting says:

    “EVs are also relatively simple machines: A battery and electric motors. They require far less service, no oil changes and they are extremely reliable.”

    Sure, no battery charger that is deeply integrated into the rest of the electronics ( ->bad if Renault doesn’t want you to upgrade the battery system or offers that extremely expensive etc.) which can also be remotely disabled by Renault (there was a news a few years ago) – e.g. if you want to use a battery that isn’t sold by Renault…
    And when I’m reading about the reliability of Renault Z.E. vehicles, they obviously mean the reliability of income for Renault -> very high battery costs (and also some defective motors in the meaning of “must be completely replaced” – already in warranty time).

    Where is the service pricelist? At least for the Model S it’s more expensive than for my Megane III, incl. everything that’s necessary like cam belt etc.

    I actually like Renault, my current car is a Megane III (my first really own car). And my parents started always buying Renault even before I was born, so I drove most km (beside business travel) in Renaults. But that are things I absolutely don’t like.


    1. Matt Griscom says:

      It’s true! EVs are much, much more reliable than cars that rely on internal combustion engines (ICE cars, e.g. gasoline). I’ve driven my 2011 Nissan LEAF for nearly 5 years and >53K miles, and never been stranded. Maintenance is trivial. All you need is new tires and windshield wipers. I’ve been left stranded by ICE cars twice: once by a broken timing belt, once by a vacuum hose that popped off.

      1. notting says:

        – I don’t believe that you don’t need more than new tires and windshield wipers. New air filter (for the passengers air)? Some sort of chassis check etc.? Not everything is found early enough by TÜV, controle technique & Co. (the regular check forced by law). And from time to time you’ll have to replaces some of the cells (-packs) if you don’t want to loose too much range…
        – I never stranded with ICE cars – although I’m driving quite much for many years and quite many different cars esp. on business travel. Even when there were warnings or unusual loud noises, it always drove on it’s on wheels with it’s own engine to the garage. I only know one case when something like timing belt broke happened (actually it didn’t brake, but the result was the same) without the fault of the owner (no replace inside the interval, replaced in a wrong way etc.) – and that was my dad -> ca. 1 year after the last timing belt replace, when the interval was far in the future.
        And I heard of several engine replaces esp. concerning EVs by Tesla and Renault…


        1. Will says:

          Please don’t make me laugh. Replacement windshield wipers and headlights are cheap. Tires, air filter, etc, these are all things that need replacing on gasoline cars too, so why are you acting as if they’re unique?

          How many people have to tell you that EVs are more reliable before you believe it? They are mechanically very simple compared to a combustion engine, so there’s far less to go wrong. Obviously the batteries are still very expensive but thankfully these are under warranty. When the warranty runs out, well, hopefully batteries will be cheaper by then.

          I don’t know who TÜV, controle technique & Co. are, but in the UK our MOT tests are VERY strict and they’ll fail your car on small things.

          “And from time to time you’ll have to replaces some of the cells (-packs) if you don’t want to loose too much range…
          – I never stranded with ICE cars –
          And I heard of several engine replaces esp. concerning EVs by Tesla and Renault…”

          Clearly shows how little you know about EVs if you think that ‘individual cells get replaced’. Dude, if cells fail, mostl likely scenario is the entire battery fails. You don’t replace cells, you replace the whole pack. Fortunately the batteries are actually proving really reliable; we have years of data to prove this.

          I’m sorry to hear you’ve heard Tesla and Renault having ‘engine’ (you mean motor) replacements. Please bear in mind that we’ve been doing gasoline vehicles for decades, so that’s quite a long heads start. Tesla in particular are still a new company so they will make early mistakes. Nissan’s LEAF EVs have actually been VERY VERY reliable.

          BTW, your comment that gasoline cars won’t leave you stranded is nonsense. I’ve been stranded in them before. I’ve seen them break down and strand you. You have one engine, if it breaks, you’re stuck. Dual motor EVs on the other hand? If one motor fails, you can still get home on the other one.

          1. notting says:

            – I already posted before: “Where is the service pricelist? At least for the Model S it’s more expensive than for my Megane III, incl. everything that’s necessary like cam belt etc.”
            Why should BEV service be more expensive (what is obviously is) although you say it’s a less complicated machine?
            – Obviously at least Tesla is using cell packs:–and-what-it-may-cost
            All the cells are slightly stronger or weaker then their neighbors. Over the time, the weaker cells are the first ones which are loosing capacity. The stronger ones are even stressing the weaker ones by electric effects. So there will be some cells which are already like killed when the others are still quite well. That means, replacing just the worst cell(-packs) of the battery usually makes sense.
            – Electric motors are in use for many decades in factories etc. – often (nearly) 24/7 = much more than in a car. Very often also not at constant speed and for accelerating heavy stuff quite often.
            – Who says that every BEV has >1 motor? Even if it has 2 or more motors: Will the electronic disable the others to avoid damage? I think that’s quite likely.


        2. jerryd says:

          notting, it costs less than 20% of a gas car for fuel or maintaining EV’s, deal.
          What I’d like to ask Ghosn is why in all Nissan’s car line up commercials he won’t include the Leaf EV in it?
          Fact is you rarely see any EV commercials in Fla even though 200k already drive NEV’s here and would be a great place to sell them.

      2. ModernMarvelFan says:

        “I’ve driven my 2011 Nissan LEAF for nearly 5 years and >53K miles, and never been stranded. Maintenance is trivial. All you need is new tires and windshield wipers. I’ve been left stranded by ICE cars twice: once by a broken timing belt, once by a vacuum hose that popped off.”

        I have been driving ICE for over 25 years and never been stranded either.

        Only 1 out of the 7 cars I owned had timing belt and it never broke after I replaced it at 110K miles…

        I guess you don’t drive more than 80 miles much… LOL

      3. ModernMarvelFan says:

        ” nearly 5 years and >53K miles, and never been stranded. Maintenance is trivial. All you need is new tires and windshield wipers.”

        AS “reckless” LEAF owner, you have failed to uphold your maintanence requirement of servicing your brake fluids every 2 years..

        No wonder you had a broken timing belt since you probably didn’t change it according to schedule as you should have… LOL.

    2. martinwinlow says:

      What maintenance schedule? There isn’t any! MW

      1. martinwinlow says:

        (Replying to my own post, here…)

        To reinforce my point about the lack of maintenance required on EVs, please feel free to follow this link to a web site of mine that contains an hilarious automatic servicing email I got from Peugeot for my iOn EV (a re-badged i-MiEV – scroll all the way to the bottom of the page)…

        Below it is the actual service schedule downloaded from Peugeot’s web site. Enjoy! MW

  2. Yanik L says:

    Can’t wait for that new PHEV JUKE to come out. Hope it has a sufficient battery!

  3. 500 miles says:

    “Carlos Ghosn admitted that Nissan probably underestimated the reluctance of consumers to switch to the electric cars, but points to the insufficient charging infrastrucutre environment.”
    And all non stupid customers point to the weak range.

    1. Will says:

      Yep when the long range affordable EVs start rolling out, and people start opting for Tesla because of the supercharger network, Nissan is going to feel pretty stupid pretty fast.

      1. Just_chris says:

        That really depends on what happens between now and 2018 which is about when both cars will be competing unconstrained in the market. If the choice is a 60 kWh leaf for around $30k or a m

  4. scott franco says:

    “i’m excited to see how this new era unfolds”

    It will be interesting to compare this speech with next years. Nissan will, in that time, give up the top spot in EV sales by volume, and start on a march to the bottom for EVs.

    Carlos illustrates why in the speech. Their two top selling cars aren’t EVs, and he states EV sales “have not been what they expected”. I.e., time to move on from what has been just a loss leader to satisfy the green lobby.

    1. evcarnut says:

      “EV sales are not what they expected”….Well, Who’s fault is that mr. ghosn??? Maybe if you’d build something worth buying, might help!

  5. Alex says:

    Ghosn is best CEO of gasoline car makers. Nobody has three battery factory, one for every key market. Capacity for over 400000 EVs, production also for Europe, US and Japan. Think they also produce in China with dongfeng. With some EVs in near future like Juke and Versa with range extender, a Kei car (launch next year with Mitsubishi), Leaf 2 and range updates in 2017 to around 40-50 kWh for Zoe, Kangoo, e-nv200 they should remain leader. I am excited about the cheap EV for China, thats the right decision. The Panda EV sell crazy, a plastic bucket but in this market 95 % of people can’t afford cars over 12.000 Dollar.
    GO Renault-Nissan!

    1. evcarnut says:

      The Juke?? You must mean, “THE JOKE”

  6. sven says:

    Meh. Carlos Ghosn isn’t as good as ex-Nissan VP and current Austin Martin CEO, Andy Palmer, when it comes to trash talking and dissing hydrogen FCVs. Mr. Palmer knows how to throw shade on hydrogen, and came up with this memorable zinger back in 2015:

    “Whereas EV drivers face range anxiety in their travels around town, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer coined a phrase to describe what fuel cell vehicles owners face. ‘That’s not range anxiety,’ Palmer quipped to Financial Times. ‘That’s range panic, because you just can’t use the car.'”

    Oh snap! Burn.

    1. sven says:

      The spam filter is blocking the link for the above quote:

      http://www.cheatsheet (dot) com/automobiles/why-fuel-cell-vehicles-are-stumbling-out-of-the-gate.html/

    2. SparkEV says:

      AAA. I wonder if they’ll have special plans for FCV: tow hundreds of miles to H station. In case the destination is too far, simply call AAA to get it towed rather than risking range panic. Did I just come up with a new business plan? 😉

  7. Someone out there says:

    Talk talk talk! I want to see some action soon! Where is the updated LEAF?

    Sure the infrastructure is important but that will come as more and more people buys EVs and develop a market for fast charging. The two goes together. What’s really important right now is a proper 100 kW charging standard so it is ready and deployed when the next gen 200+ mile cars starts demanding it.

  8. SparkEV says:

    “But beyond environmental regulation, EVs just make sense.”

    Brilliant! We need more of this: beyond making excuses for EV as “save the planet”. Thankfully, rest of his comments other than first couple of bullet points about climate change were about why EV are so great just for being EV.

  9. shawn marshall says:

    climate change is garbage.

    1. Mister G says:

      Garbage???? Oh do you mean that very expensive coastal properties will become garbage due to rising sea level? Post your email and I will send you pictures of rising seas in Pensacola Florida.

      1. ffbj says:

        The downside of free speech.

      2. Bill Howland says:

        Shawn Marshall’s post is one of the examples of an EV owner who does not believe in the Polemic (myself included) who rarely speaks otherwise, but gets frustrated being told what to believe.

        Of course, Al Gore bought West Coast property a few feet from the Pacific Ocean, so its obvious he doesn’t believe in a Eustatic sea level change any time soon. As far as florida is concerned, I’m not familiar with this specific case, but sometimes changes at the sea shore more often happen because the shore is FALLING, as opposed to the sea is Rising. New Orleans constantly has this problem of ‘sinking land’, as an example.

        The irony is Mr. Gore’s property value will plummet, not due to the level of water, but the current level of sickness coming out of the pacific ocean due to the unprecedented Marine Life Die-off (No baby seals or wales, fish with bloody eye sockets, etc.)

        The Polar Bear commercial Nissan used to run to convince people to buy the LEAF USED to be curious since at the time the Polar Bear Population had increased 5 times in 5 decades, but NOW, they are REALLY threatened, – their fur is falling off in patches, young bears are dying from heart attacks – the same way Belarus teenagers died from “Chernobyl Heart”.

        1. Someone out there says:

          You are not told what to believe. You are told what the evidence says. You may choose to ignore that but the evidence doesn’t go away just because you do. And no, Al Gore didn’t make up the evidence. Al Gore made a bad movie about it and managed to promote it well. That doesn’t take any validity away from the actual evidence.

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Ah !!!

            The actual evidence.. Yes, what people say does not take away from the actual evidence.

            One minor detail on the Ice Core evidence is that GORE got backwards. Co2 concentrations LAG warming by 800 years on average. He said they LEAD. In other words, it gets warmer first, and then the CO2 level follows later. To say the opposite ignores the evidence.

            In the past I’ve listed 12 or 13 respected Climatologits, some at the pinacle of their field, saying this and more, – primarily that water is by far the most important Greenhouse Gas. (96%)

            Then friends start emailing me that some people on the list have done incidental work for the ‘fossil fuel’ industry. Oh Horrors! Heaven forbit that any industry would want to hire a Scientist now and then. Of course, some people on the list I’ve provided haven’t received a DIME from them. Those that haven’t are just ignored.

            But I’ll stick with the evidence.

  10. Pete says:

    What the chief planning officer mean in the third video at minute 30:05 ?!
    He says this year a new car, surprise surprise comes with single lane assist in Japan. Anybody know if this could be the Versa EV for Japan market?

    1. Mister G says:

      Nissan is a bit late to autonomous cars…Tesla has autonomous cars today. Don’t believe me YouTube “Tesla auto pilot”.

  11. JP White says:

    “Carlos Ghosn admitted that Nissan probably underestimated the reluctance of consumers to switch to the electric cars, but points to the insufficient charging infrastrucutre environment.”

    So the major blame is at the foot of the governments for not providing infrastructure to support Nissan sales. Hmmm….

    Meanwhile Tesla marches on selling cars and building its own infrastructure. Oh yeah they overtook Nissan in unit sales in 2015.

    Nissan like other OEm’s realize they need to make EV’s to meet regulatory hurdles and expect the governments to assist them over those hurdles.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Yeah, Ghosn has been on this campaign for the past 4 years, which conveniently avoids any deficiency in his vehicles, namely, the batteries are really too small for many people.

      His vehicles are nice – The Nissan and, as far as I know, since we don’t have access to them in the states, the Renault EV’s seem perfectly fine vehicles – but if you want to make a 300 mile round trip, its a chore.

      So he says there isn’t enough ‘infrastructure’, but if he bothered to make a car that would go further, you’d only need to charge up once at your destination and then you could go back home.

      I’ve made a 300 mile round trip in my former Roadster by making sure I was fully charged before starting, driving 150 miles, and then trickle charging an addtional 70 miles to get back home on ‘sparks’ (not ‘fumes’ as we used to say with gas cars).

      But my only requirement was to find a 20-30 amp 200 volt charging dock SOMEWHERE along the way (after the first 70 miles, of course).

      But if Ghosn only makes a 70 mile vehicle, and then only lately has released a 100 mile vehicle, then obviously to make any kind of an extended trip at all in any reasonable length of time will require plenty of level 2 and level 3 ‘fast’ chargers – which in my area are none existant, with the exception of Tesla along the interstate routes.

      Tesla is a bit of a special case since they don’t disclose the cost of their network (other than saying, for annual report purposes that it is *not* material) – they get plenty of money from Wall Street lately so its difficult for a layman to make an analysis of the true cost of the system, which normally you would think would be considerable.

      In any event, in NY State businesses get 1/2 off their taxes to provide any kind of ‘EV infrastructure’ (L1,2 or 3), – the only requirement being that they provide free electricity for a minimum of 36 months for the ‘public station’. Its a fair program since NY state is not ‘partial’ to this particular form of alternative energy. They have basically the same deal with Propane, H2, and CNG infrastructures also, so naysayers cannot say its a totally unfair bonanza to EV’s only. Its just that since EV’s are the cheapest to refuel, and the cheapest ‘infrastructure’ to provide (wallbox mounted on a wall can be installed for under $1000 if the business really wants to absolutely minimize costs since there’s no excavation needed).

      National Grid, one of the local utilities in my area, teaming with ChargePoint, to their credit has at least partnered with several businesses to foot the installation cost of dual 30 amp 200 volt (6 kw) docking stations at certain retailers, schools, and businesses. I’m certainly unimpressed by anything else NG has done. But they get the gold star for this since neighboring utilities have as of yet to step up to the plate to help ev adoption.

      But since this kind of thing (small, L2 docking stations) is the only effective refueling point for ev’s in my area, we need vehicles with larger batteries to make medium length trips in our ev’s tolerable.

      Even at a 50% subsidy (very generous of NY State if you ask me), very few businesses have taken them up on the offer. And outside of National Grid areas, there are only a few ‘tesla destination chargers’ (usually available only for paying guests), and then the Nissan would only be able to be hooked up to the token non-tesla station.

      Ghosn I always suspected was trying to deflect blame for lack of EV adoption. I’m almost certain more vehicles would be sold if you could really go someplace in them without constantly worrying whether you could ‘make it’. If he made a car with a really decent battery (60-100 kwh), he might be surprised how many people would pay the extra premium (not so much now at $150 per extra kwh) so that the experience was more carefree, as it is in PHEV’s.

  12. kdawg says:

    Is is just me, or did the set of the Q&A with Carlos remind you of “Between Two Ferns”?

    1. Jay Cole says:


  13. ModernMarvelFan says:

    Talk is cheap…

    Let us see some real actions.