Over the years, Nissan has done a lot of things for advancement of the electric vehicle, but yesterday's decision to lure Johan de Nysschen away from Audi to become the senior vice president in charge of the Infiniti luxury brand worldwide is a real head scratcher, especially considering Nissan (and by extension Infiniti) has staked their whole future on the electrification of the automobile.
If you were to look up all time gaffs when it comes to not being environmentally friendly, while simultaneously attempting to market electric cars, Johan is perhaps second only to General Motor's own Bob Lutz (with his famous "global warming is a crock of s***" back in 2008).
Here is a look at a few highlights of Mr. De Nyscchen's last few years at Audi:
"The Chevrolet Volt is a car for Idiots...No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla. So there are not enough idiots who will buy it."
"Mass electrification" of the vehicles on American roads could lead to problems like a strained electric grid. Large-scale utilization of electric vehicles will require massive investment in new power stations that are much cleaner than the ones in use in the U.S. today."
"(EVs) could merely shift greenhouse gas emissions from the tailpipes of cars to the smokestacks of coal-burning utilities. That's not just my opinion. The California Air Resource Board this past April concluded that electric vehicles presently are second only to hydrogen cars in greenhouse gas impact when measured on a well-to-wheel basis"
InsideEVs own Lyle Dennis had a prolonged interview with Mr. De Nysschen shortly after the 'Volt incident', where he admitted that EVs could be a long term solution...but "not for 20 years", while still adding that “promise land” of electric vehicle will lead to “dirt in the atmosphere."
"If we want EVs, we face potentially staggering investments including cleaning up coal-powered plants and generating new capacity. Simply switching to EVs right now without cleaning up power generation is just 'adding more' pollution to the environment.”
So this is the man that will be standing by Nissan's flagship for the next generation of electric vehicles, the Infiniti LE, when it goes on sale next year? Something tells me there is going to be a lot of back-peddling in Johan's future before then.
To be fair to Johan, aside from stubbing his toe on electric vehicles, he is accomplished automotive executive and was responsible for an impressive turnaround at Audi over the seven years he lead the brand. Infiniti hopes he can bring the brand's cache up to the level of its German rivals; BMW, Mercedes, and the aforementioned Audi...as well as the price points.