Originally published on Gas2.
First of all, let me note that I’m a big fan of Carlos Ghosn. I love the way he talks about things, but especially about electric vehicles. He’s a very straight shooter and doesn’t fluff his language excessively, imho. Granted, as the head of one of the largest companies in the world, he’s had his ample share of PR training and does engage in some of the same annoying tendencies other CEOs engage in, especially when it comes to the written word (which I’m sure is manicured… when it isn’t ghost written by someone else entirely).
But anyway, back to the EVs: Nissan initially set some very high targets for the Nissan LEAF. I think that was fundamentally because Ghosn (and others at Nissan) see the many great benefits of electric cars and thought consumers would jump all over them — and, in particular, the most widely available and one of the most affordable among them, the LEAF. Unfortunately, it takes a long time for the majority of the population to catch wind of new technology (in 2013, only ~31% of the US population were “familiar with” — read: had heard of and remembered hearing of — the Nissan LEAF)… and then to understand it… and then to understand why it’s better… and then to actually buy it. Furthermore, hate campaigns and media BS have turned many people off from electric cars who would actually be better off driving them.
A detour doesn’t change the destination, though. Ghosn still knows all about the advantages of electric cars, and I’m convinced that he thinks they are the future, which is one reason why the Renault-Nissan Alliance is still so keen on remaining a leader in the sector, and hopefully seeing that leadership translate into years of success like Toyota has seen by leading the way into hybrid technology.
Some of the latest evidence of Ghosn’s enthusiasm for EVs is sitting in a blog post he wrote on LinkedIn. Here it is reposted in full:
How EVs Are Moving Mainstream
I don’t see other automakers as competitors when it comes to zero-emissions vehicles. They’re allies. And it is great to see the number of “Alliance allies” growing, as other automakers introduce more affordable EVs to compete with the segment-leading Nissan LEAF.
We reached the 250,000-unit milestone in early June, 4.5 years after the LEAF was introduced as the world’s first mass-market, zero-emission vehicle. The Alliance today accounts for half of all EVs sold worldwide, and the LEAF remains the best-selling EV ever, with more than 180,000 units sold.
From the start, we set lofty goals for the LEAF. While we fell short of our initial sales targets, I remain bullish on the future of EVs as they move into the mainstream. The trend globally to impose tougher restrictions on automotive CO2 emissions, to mitigate the impact of climate change, means eventually all automakers will need to offer zero-emissions alternatives in their fleets. The most practical alternative today is the EV.
I remain bullish on the future of EVs as they move into the mainstream. The trend globally to impose tougher restrictions on automotive CO2 emissions … means eventually all automakers will need to offer zero-emissions alternatives in their fleets. The most practical alternative today is the EV.”
We also are seeing demand grow quickly in places where businesses and governments are joining to expand the charging infrastructure, and as more motorists get the chance to experience an EV.
In fact, computer engineer Yves Nivelle, who bought our 250,000th EV, was spurred in part by an incentive in France that encourages owners of older diesel-engine vehicles to trade them in on a new EV.
“But I have to say, I was convinced the first time I drove the car,” Nivelle said. “It’s a real pleasure to drive and it feels good to do my part for the environment.” (You can see what else Yves had to say about his new Renault ZOE in the video below)
That sort of enthusiasm is quite common among our EV owners. Renault and Nissan EVs enjoy among the highest levels of customer satisfaction that we have seen for any vehicle. Operating costs are low, they require less maintenance and they are fun to drive.
In other recent news, companies are forming to take advantage of re-packaging used EV batteries for other uses. Nissan recently announced it is teaming up with Green Charge Networks, an energy startup, to reuse LEAF batteries to store energy for commercial and industrial buildings.
After many years of service, car batteries eventually need to be replaced. But they still retain enough charge for lighter chores.
When electricity rates are highest, in the middle of the day, a corporate customer can switch its energy use from the power grid to these re-packaged batteries. Or, even better, it can use the batteries to store unused energy from rooftop solar panels. Some homeowners already are doing this by connecting their solar panels to their EVs, to store the energy in the car’s batteries for later use.
Companies including UPS, 7-Eleven and Walgreens are among those that have signed on with Green Charge Networks.
Getting as much life out of the batteries as possible just makes sense for the environment. Now it’s generating an economic opportunity, too.
Battery technology continues to improve, as well. In fact, the day is nearing when the typical EV motorists will be able to leave home with a full charge, go about their daily routine, and return home with ample charge remaining in their Nissan LEAF or Renault ZOE.
The day is nearing when the typical EV motorists will be able to leave home with a full charge, go about their daily routine, and return home with ample charge remaining in their Nissan LEAF or Renault ZOE.”
Later this year, you will hear more about our initial steps to increase the range of our EVs. Our goal is to eliminate “range anxiety” for our customers, as we continue our effort to make zero-emission vehicle a mainstream choice.
Finally, I wanted to share with you my enthusiasm for FIA Formula E, the new racing series that uses all-electric, solar-powered cars. I’m proud to note e.dams-Renault took the team championship in London’s Battersea Park last month.
As with other racing series in which manufacturers are involved, the lessons learned on the track eventually benefit the cars we drive every day. We expect that will be no different with Formula E. I’m also encouraged by the fact that so many of Formula E’s fans are young, which bodes well for the future of EVs.
A decade ago, many people thought electric cars would never make it, that they were slow, bulky and unattractive – more like a golf cart. That’s obviously changed. And with Formula E, we now see that EVs can also be sleek, fast and powerful – while still being good for the environment.
The transformation in thinking about electric cars is complete. EVs are clearly becoming a mainstream choice.
Let the good news continue!