Anyone who’s interested in the present and future state of the auto industry will want to watch this interview with Carlos Ghosn on the Charlie Rose show, in which Ghosn has a good bit to say about the EV scene.
As the CEO of Nissan, Renault and the Russian automaker AvtoVAZ, this is a guy who sees the big picture. Currently in fourth place among the world’s top auto manufacturing groups, Nissan/Renault aims to be number three, and with Ghosn at the helm, it seems likely to get there. Here he makes some insightful comments about the triple trend of vehicle electrification, autonomy and connectivity, which will remake the auto industry.
Precictably, Rose leads off the interview with a question about public charging stations. Ghosn acknowledges that “the fact that there are not enough charging stations” is the main obstacle to greater EV adoption, as indicated by surveys from various countries.
With over 200,000 units sold around the world, the LEAF is beginning to be profitable, giving Nissan a strong motivation to push it harder, says Ghosn. He also notes that EVs are a rapidly-growing part of the market in China, where 20 million cars will be sold this year.
When it comes to the flavor of the month, fuel cells, Ghosn explains that all automakers are researching them, along with other new technology. “You can’t just squeeze yourself into only electric cars or only fuel cells, because you don’t know what the regulations in different countries are going to be.” Governments have a habit of favoring one technology over another – for example in Europe, 60% of cars sold are diesels (compared to less than 1% in the US and Japan), because of regulations.
Ghosn has high praise for Tesla, which is “trying to develop the notion that zero-emission cars can be fun, can be exciting…We’re pushing in the same direction, making the electric car a normal car.”
Asked about the Tesla/auto dealer war, Ghosn notes that Nissan needs its dealer network, as selling 8.3 million cars per year directly to consumers would be hopelessly complicated. Buying a car is partly an emotional experience – there’s a certain amount of ceremony and romance involved. He concedes that consumers are much better informed these days, but says that buyers still need to go to showrooms, as nothing can replace the test drive and the relationship of trust with a local dealer.