Nissan chief: the Leaf is our anti-crisis weapon

Japan’s number-two automaker has faced at least five major crises over the last few years – the US mortgage meltdown, the European debt debacle, a quake in Japan, floods in Thailand and a sky-high yen that makes things tough for Japanese exporters. 

 

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn gave a talk at the Japan Society in New York last Thursday, with the theme of “Driving Change Through Crisis.” Japan’s number-two automaker has faced at least five major crises over the last few years – the US mortgage meltdown, the European debt debacle, a quake in Japan, floods in Thailand and a sky-high yen that makes things tough for Japanese exporters. Through it all, Mr Ghosn has done much better than keeping the company afloat. Nissan remains profitable and growing, and its CEO has risen to corporate superstar status – he stars as a superhero in a Manga comic book, and he’s featured in the new movie Revenge of the Electric Car.

Mr Ghosn (rhymes with “phone”) is also a strong supporter of electric cars. In his talk, he noted his preference for battery-powered EVs rather than plug-in hybrids. Of course, Nissan’s nemesis, Toyota, has taken the opposite tack.

Mr. Ghosn said that one of his first decisions in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake was to make sure the Nissan Leaf program stayed on track. He called the Leaf the company’s “anti-crisis weapon,” an ace in the hole against rising oil prices. “But the batteries are still too heavy and expensive,” he said. “The evolution of the battery is extremely important for development in the 21st century.”

 

Image: Nissan