It was already seen last week with Carlos Ghosn back on the front of the stage by talking about battery electric vehicles.
Of course, the former CEO of Nissan and head of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, who currently lives in exile in Lebanon, raised his criminal case in front of a large audience of journalists from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, but more ground expense was covered when asked about his observations on BEVs.
Appointment via Zoom (photo below, left), Ghosn opened up about his first leading role in BEVs with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his claim that his sudden ousting from Nissan management three years ago is also a loss for Nissan and the industry. .
This latest press conference came 12 years after his founding speech at the club, two days before the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, in which he outlined Nissan’s strategic commitment to switch to electric vehicles.
He had informed Nissan shareholders of the plan a year earlier in June 2008, while pledging € 4 billion ($ 4.5 billion) to bring a range of BEVs to market, both by Nissan and Renault. At the time, Ghosn estimated that electric vehicles (possibly including plug-in hybrids) would account for 10% of global car sales in 2020.
In an extensive question-and-answer session, Ghosn said this:
- On the question of the risks associated with investing in electric cars: “Common sense of the market (it is that the industry) is going 100% electric. I don’t think there is a problem of overinvestment because I think the whole industry is moving in that direction. And it’s a huge industry. We are talking about 85 to 90 million cars sold per year. So when you see these investments, which I think are not excessive, I think we’re going to see a shift, a very big shift, from old technology to this new technology.
- On the transition from internal combustion engine vehicles: “The difficulty for traditional automakers is how are they going to stop old investments (in combustion engines). Will they be able to resist the old boys in their (respective) companies who tell them “You still need this engine” or “It is not true that the electric car is going to represent 100% of the market? The speed of this change will determine who is going to be a winner. And the market is betting that Elon Musk will be the winner. Why? Because he has no luggage.
- On Nissan’s 2009 strategy and the launch of the electric Leaf: “Everyone was laughing at us. “The electric car will not work”, “There are no batteries”, “They are too expensive”, “They are not powerful enough”, and all those kinds of problems. Now, he says, there is currently no automaker “not planning to be totally zero emissions, fully electric in 2025, 2030, or even 2035”.
- On Nissan’s plans announced in November to invest 2,000 billion yen ($ 18.5 billion) over the next five years and launch 15 new electric vehicles by 2030: “To act in this industry, you have to have a vision. You have to have a conviction. You have to have a belief. You must have knowledge. And you have to have experience. When I look at the people who manage (Nissan), they are followers. Just like before 1999, Nissan always followed Toyota, wanting to emulate Toyota here, wanting to emulate them there, and being afraid of being ambitious. There is no future for this kind of mentality, and there is no future for this kind of culture.
- As to whether Nissan can implement its plan: “Frankly, I can’t comment because I don’t know what led to their decision. But in our industry, 5% is a “statement” and 95% is an execution. We’ve heard a lot of grandiose plans where people are going to invest billions of dollars to develop technology. But at the end of the day, what matters is what you are able to perform (deliver). Can you run? Can you perform with discipline? Can you perform with concentration? Unfortunately, when I look at Nissan’s bottom line, it’s not impressive. Even their so-called return to profits (projected at 2% this year) is the weakest operating profit since 1999 if we exclude the year of the financial crisis (2008 and 2009) when everyone broke down. So where are they going to get all this money to invest? “