Navigating the new world of electric vehicles takes leaps of faith and lots of planning. It also requires someone at the helm who's ready to try different things and also stick to his guns. In other words, it's not easy. But Renault and Nissan head Carlos Ghosn keeps on moving forward.

Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show this week, Ghosn said the EV automotive landscape is changing ("I think the breakthrough will come from China," he said), but his key EV strategy remains the same: be ready to sell plug-in vehicles when customers are ready to buy them. Together, Renault and Nissan have sold 70,000 electric cars already, so Ghosn has some experience in this arena.

"The 70,000 people today who drive our electric cars are very happy with them."

"What is interesting about electric cars is that the perception has changed," he said. "Four or five years ago, when we started with electric cars, people considered the electric car like a golf cart. But with with Leaf and now the Zoe, these are very good cars – performance, acceleration, styling, comfort. The 70,000 people today who drive our electric cars are very happy with them."

It's not just a matter of buying a plug-in vehicle and loving it, Ghosn said. A robust local infrastructure combined with a suitable range are the big factors that play into how happy people are with their EVs, he said. Basically, if you have range (or charging everywhere), then you like your EV. If you worry all the time, you don't.

"You don't need to put all your eggs in one basket."

Of course, having a variety of models can't hurt, either. Ghosn said Nissan will have more electric models coming but, for now, Nissan and Renault approach EVs in their own way. "Each company is going to have a different strategy," he said. "Nissan preferred not to have cars which are not gasoline engines transformed into electric cars. And Renault said, "I am going to move directly with these cars first: Fluence, Kangoo. Nissan said I'm going to start with the Leaf which exists only as an electric. The Zoe and Twizy exist only as electrics, and from time to time having different strategies is not so bad. You don't need to put all your eggs in one basket and have the same strategies just because you are allied. You can test different solutions and different approaches, as long as you share basic elements."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 74 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 1 Month Ago
      'In Europe first we launch the two BEVs, the up! or small compact car and the Golf. We will launch the Porsche 918 [plug-in hybrid]. Then in ’14 and beyond the products that we want to do are plug-in hybrids for the bigger Audis. We want to have a plug-in hybrid version of the European Passat. The European Passat sits on a different platform than the US Passat. Then the plug-in hybrid Golf, and of course there will be more vehicles coming. —Oliver Schmidt' http://www.greencarcongress.com/2013/03/schmidt-20130311.html My guess is that VW will price the UpE competitively with the Smart ED, as manufacturers tend to look first at the home based competition. If that is the case with a likely far better battery than the Zoe then it would seem to me a far better buy, and the Golf E preferable to the Leaf.
      Ziv
      • 1 Month Ago
      Ray, your comment made me laugh out loud and my colleagues here at work are looking at me like I am crazy. I half expected you to call the Volt vapor-ware. ;-)
      DaveMart
      • 1 Month Ago
      VW releases start this year with the Up battery electric and continue with a host of other models over the next couple of years. They always intended to take their time, but since they have redesigned all their chassis to allow this sort of vehicle and PHEV I see no reason to doubt that they will be released. They are a German company, not Californians. Slow and to a plan, is the way they work.
      throwback
      • 1 Month Ago
      Or GMs skateboard platform on their fuel cell car from about 10 years ago.
      MTN RANGER
      • 1 Month Ago
      Is it me or do Carlos always look pissed off? Seriously, I'd like to know more info on the upcoming Infiniti LE. Is it going to have a 32kWh or so battery pack? Will they price it less than the competing BMW i3 but more than the Volt/Focus EV?
      pmpjunkie01
      • 1 Month Ago
      I agree with DM, a skateboard chassis is a bit simplistic these days, the MQB system seems much more versatile. 3 sets of parts for everything from a sub 10K Scoda, Seat, VW, Audi and Porsche to a Bentley is what I remember about it.
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Month Ago
      Carlos Ghosn is a man of great conviction and vision. It must have taken great courage and an amazing persuasive talent to initiate such a vast and hugely expensive investment program to build affordable EV's. Despite the fact that even with heavy Japanese and French government support, sales of Renault-Nissan EV's are disappointing, Carlos Ghosn soldiers on, determined to get a breakthrough in acceptance. 70.000 may not seem like many unit's sold, but only a few short years ago, the only EV's were dubious quality home conversions. Carlos Ghosn, chose to develop and market EV's for the "affordable" commuter sector. This is a very difficult part of the auto-mobile market in which to introduce new technology. There just isn't enough profit margin or overall cost to disguise the cost of new technology. Carlos Ghosn, had the courage to swim against the tide, and ignore the conventional wisdom of auto-mobile manufacture for the last 100 years, and introduce EV technology in the Leaf, Zoe etc. (the Kangoo Van looks a winner). Garlos Ghosn deserves respect and support from every EV enthusiast, and environmentalist.
        Spec
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Marcopolo
        It was quite the risky gambit and it certainly has not done as well as they had hoped. But it in the long term, it may end up being genius. If they are wise, they are patenting EV inventions that they come up with as they learn from experience and they'll be able to license those to others the way Toyota has been able to license their hybrid synergy drive technology to others. There is no choice but to reduce or get off gasoline. http://www.nasdaq.com/article/oecd-says-oil-prices-could-reach-150-270-a-barrel-by-2020-20130306-00867
      chanonissan
      • 1 Month Ago
      are we going to have the new NMC battery, although NEC has develop a new magnesium type battery with 30% more improvement. why Autoblog did tell us the Q50 hybrid estimates is 45 mpg (37.8 mpg US) on the NEDC cycle in UK and the 2.2 diesel is 64 mpg NEDC cycle.
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Month Ago
      By the way I drove to work today in my new red Leaf SV, leased for 24months for $273 a month(including taxes). $400 for taxes and fees at signing.
        Rotation
        • 1 Month Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        The 24 month leases are crazy low right now. I went 36 though.
        Ray Blackburn
        • 1 Month Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        You finally got it. You are going to love it!
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Month Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        @ paulwesterberg Well done Paul ! Welcome to the EV drivers club ! The Nissan Leaf is a great little EV , and it sounds like you got a good deal ! I'm sure every time you drive past a gas station you will be smiling ! I hope you get many miles of pleasure, commuting in your environment friendly Leaf.
          lne937s
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Marco, Whether you mean to imply a small size or not by your repeated use of the term "little", I just want to point out again that the LEAF is not a "little" car. It is officially a mid-sized car, with a larger interior than not only the Volt, but also the Chevy Malibu.
          Rotation
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Marcopolo
          lne937s: Much of that space is above your head. Like in a New Beetle. It's a bit misleading. Definitely bigger than a Volt in the passenger compartment, even omitting the extra "air" above, but it doesn't feel bigger than a Malibu even if it is. Can't get a set of golf clubs in the trunk without removing the driver. That's still a heck of a lot better than the Fit EV on that front tough. It's weird to me how upright the LEAF, Fit (inc EV) and Ford C-Max are. That's not great for the frontal area, yet all 3 do it. It comes in handy when you are inside the vehicle though.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @ lne937s I guess it's all a matter of perception. I was not intending to be negative, far from it! I class all hatchbacks as small cars. This is a positive benefit when choosing a commuter vehicle. The Volt/Ampera may not be bigger than the Leaf in the interior, but it's not a hatchback and just looks larger. When I visit the UK , I'm always amazed at what the British motorist thinks of as middle sized cars. Australia is the land of the the "big six (although this changing) and I still think of an average car as about the same size as a Chevrolet Caprice ! ( Or my Lexus 450h ) So, I hope you'll forgive my ageing terminology .
        Giza Plateau
        • 1 Month Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        no down payment?
          paulwesterberg
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Giza Plateau
          They can structure the lease so you either have a large downpayment for example(2k down & 200 a month) or you can just pay 1st month + taxes & fees at signing and pay a higher monthly cost. They don't give you any discount for paying more up front so it is better to keep your money in your pocket and pay as you go.
          Rotation
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Giza Plateau
          If you have good credit you can get "no down payment". "no down payment" means you just pay a single payment and fees up front. It works like purchasing that way. If you have bad credit you'll have to put a few thou down. Since the emphasis when leasing is on low monthly payments, the dealers will usually write their first offer with a noticeably large down payment which produces some super lowball monthly payment.
        Spec
        • 1 Month Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Awesome. Give Mr. Whirly a ride and Take Me Down To The Hospital. ;-)
        throwback
        • 1 Month Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        What is the mileage cap on the lease?
        ElectricAvenue
        • 1 Month Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Interesting. Total cost for 24 months if you go, say, 20,000 miles will be roughly $4100 (273*12+400 for taxes + about $400 for electricity). Someone driving a 20 mpg car will consume 1000 gallons to go 20,000 miles, which alone costs nearly the same amount. That's incredible, really. Once it gets to the point that the cost to lease and run a new electric car is less than the cost to fuel your average car, well, that's a sort of tipping point, isn't it?
        krona2k
        • 1 Month Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Congratulations. I've had mine for about a month and love it.
        Rotation
        • 1 Month Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        A warning to you paul from another new LEAF owner: The sunglasses holder is completely misdesigned, it unloads your glasses into your lap (or the center console) when you open it. So don't put glasses in there or be very careful when opening it. It should have had a better lip at the bottom (rear when closed) end of the door.
      Spec
      • 1 Month Ago
      They need a 'skateboard' chassis design so they can offer more car model designs based on the same base EV platform. Having a single EV chassis design will allow the EV costs to be shared among multiple different models. And having more car design models will allow people to get an EV who don't like the look of the Leaf, or want a sedan, or want a pick-up, or want a mini-van, etc.
      throwback
      • 1 Month Ago
      He better be right since he bet the farm on EVs taking off. His shareholders will want his head if they don't.
        chanonissan
        • 1 Month Ago
        @throwback
        looking at the pictures, he looks worried already
          ericmarseille
          • 1 Month Ago
          @chanonissan
          He just put the final period to an agreement with the unions by which, in exchange of more work and pay freeze for the workers, he would guarantee a certain production level in French territory, which is bad news enough for him, but the unions had a little surprise "quenelle" for him also : how about cutting some of your outrageous pay, my lord? he reluctantly accepted to delay 30% of his Variable part in his Renault pay (let's say a drop in the bucket of all his money sources). You can look at the good it does to him on his face...Renault is facing troubles? let's stay optimistic...The styling, supervised by that swollen self-loving machine Le Quément is decried by everybody? Let's take ten years to fire him! French workers (who buy Renault cars) are more expensive than Romanian workers (who can't buy bicycles)? let's delocalize in Romania ! hey funny, nobody buys our cars anymore! let's keep our upper lip etc...But my pay! MY PAY! MY CASSETTE! AAAArhhh!
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Month Ago
        @throwback
        @ throwback You are right, but that's the price of true leadership, taking risks !
      DaveMart
      • 1 Month Ago
      February French Renault Zoe sales: ' the Renault Zoe lands directly at #88 with 440 sales' http://bestsellingcarsblog.com/tag/500l/ They should really start kicking on in March with a bit of luck, as general release is for this month.
        Reggie
        • 1 Month Ago
        @DaveMart
        Dacia Duster was not around in France a couple of years ago, its come from nowhere to No5 in France, how good is that Dave Zero to Hero in sales in France the-way-to-go. Maybe a £8,995 Duster EV is the way to go, then Renault have got me hooked.
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Month Ago
        @DaveMart
        @ DaveMart I hope Zoe sales start happening outside of France, I really do. Carlos Ghosn and Renault will be in real trouble otherwise. Hoping for amortised investment is all very well, but as the years roll by and the nearly $7 billion investment grow ever more burdensome, the shareholders grow increasingly restive ! Zoe is important for the whole EV market, if it fails, most of the investment for small ''affordable" ev's will dry up for some time. A lot rides on the success or failure of this small car. Fortunately, it's an excellent little vehicle, so if the market fails to respond, it not because of a lack of build quality.
        ericmarseille
        • 1 Month Ago
        @DaveMart
        hey Dave, The official commercialization of Zoe hasn't started yet, it is planned for (and will be, commercial force has been briefed, cars have been delivered to dealers) next week-end. So please wait for one or two months before giving figures. That said, for reasons I've been already exposing to this blog, Zoe's start will be comparable to all electric-vehicles commercialization, slow ; it's not a problem of image, it's not a problem of renting the battery (although there is this supplementary difficulty), it's not even a problem of range-anxiety ; it's a problem of letting the people to which this car would be the most useful be able to buy it, that is, an infrastructure problem. What do you do when you park your car on the street at night? but just wait for one or two years, depending on the political and commercial goodwill of all parties, and you will see an enormous acceleration in sales...And in ten years, prob. 50% of new cars in France, perhaps 30-40% in Europe, will be electric ones. i'd bet my house on this (well, it's a flat actually, but you'll arrange that with the landlord if I lose :)
        DaveMart
        • 1 Month Ago
        @DaveMart
        Eric: Since I qualified the Zoe figures by noting that general release is not until March, I really can't see what the problem is with giving the figures to date. 440 is actually quite good, considering the Leaf only sells around 1,500/month in the far bigger US market and, as noted, the Zoe is not yet on general release.
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