Carlos Ghosn, the former boss of Nissan (and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance), who escaped from Japan a few years ago, recently had an opportunity to talk about electrification at an online news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.
According to Automotive News, Carlos Ghosn notes not the clear direction is towards full electrification, but also a high speed of the transition is required. The transition that he once jump-started with the launch of the Nissan LEAF in December 2010.
"The market is telling you we are completely writing off the combustion engine."
At the time, when the LEAF came out, it was yet too early for mass electrification. Nissan's sales forecasts were missed probably by an order of magnitude, which led to limited development of new LEAF versions, delayed/canceled new models (it was promised that we would see 4 Nissan and 4 Renault models, but Nissan ended with two - LEAF and e-NV200 van).
In other words, the early beginning was challenging and a bit too optimistic. However, the direction was recognized correctly and required a continuous push.
"When I launched the first mass-market electric car, as you know, everybody was laughing at us about, you know, you guys are lost."
Today, in 2021, it's a different story as the entire industry is pushing electrification programs and building new battery plants like there is no tomorrow. Frankly, for ICE cars, there will be no tomorrow, sooner rather than later.
Carlos Ghosn - who is now engaged in consulting work about electrification - notes that newcomers (like Tesla) and manufacturers from China (who see electrification as an opportunity) are in a better position than legacy manufacturers. The established manufacturers must accelerate the electrification to stay competitive.
"The speed of the shift is going to determine who's going to be the winner,"
"The Chinese are going to play beautifully with electrification,"
When it comes to Nissan's new $18 billion electrification plan, which includes 50% electrification (xEVs) by the fiscal year 2030 (by the end of March 2031), Carlos Ghosn finds it too slow and even "blasts his former company as vision-less in this new era."
Actually, it's more than that, and Nissan is pictured as one of the worst in the race:
"They are really in a very bad position in this race. There is no vision. They don't know where they're going. They have no image about this huge technological transformation that is taking place."