Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn continues to be evangelical about electric vehicles. The problem is, he's preaching to the choir.

Ghosn believes – still – that by the end of this decade, one in 10 cars his companies sell will be electric. While 70,000 customers are happy with their EVs (the Nissan Leaf and more recently the Renault Zoe), they're nowhere near 10 percent of the global automaker's sales. Denmark has been one of the markets where EV adoption was expected to take hold. Three years after introduction, only 73 Leafs have been sold there.

Back in 2009, Ghosn's companies invested $5 billion in EVs in an effort to lead the revolution of this new technology. Today, his strategy remains the same: have EVs on the market waiting for customers to buy them. To that end, Ghosn recently placed his COO Toshiyuki Shiga in charge of EVs, reinforcing the message that Nissan is deeply committed to electrification. The Leaf is now being produced in the US and the UK and the company has made arrangements to build an EV in China as well. That plant will be able to produce 50,000 units a year by 2015, as many as Nissan makes at its Leaf factory in Japan today.

The public still remains skeptical. While the MSRP for the 2013 Leaf dropped by $6,400 and government incentives are available, the price is still too high for many car shoppers. Range anxiety is still there, with charging stations few and far between. Nissan was only about to hit half of its original US sales target in 2012.

"As long as Ghosn meets profit targets, investors won't fret."

Investors are being a bit skeptical as well, disappointed with Nissan's EV sales so far. "When we see this situation of Nissan missing targets in several markets, the atmosphere of trust has begun to deteriorate a little," said Takashi Aoki, a Tokyo-based fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management Co. "As long as Ghosn meets profit targets, investors won't fret."


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  • 52 Comments
      Bryan Lund
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hey Nissan, I want a Renault Zoe instead of the dorky Nissan Leaf. Can you help a guy like me? I live in southern New Mexico, near Las Cruces.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bryan Lund
        You better get something with a good battery thermal management system. Particularly, cooling.
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have always been a fan of Carlos Ghosn's resolve to persevere with Renault-Nissan's EV programs. So far, Renault-Nissan (including government support) has invested more than $ 10 billion into it's EV programs. Normally, such a large investment, with such a poor return, would be the subject of a shareholder revolt. (especially after the Better Place debacle ). It's a measure of Garlos Ghosen's courage and charisma, that he has managed (so far) to keep the rising tide of criticism to a manageable level. Renault-Nissan is a complex group of intertwining alliances and partnerships with many other manufacturers and organisations. It's a tribute to Ghosn political and administrative skill that he's managed to stay the ringmaster of such a difficult arrangement, while driving the conglomerate to be the 4th biggest vehicle maker, ( 8,097,197 units p.a.). Carlos Ghosn rightly identifies the Renault Zoe as the make it, or break it EV. Despite, rapid expansion and impressive profits from the total group selling ICE vehicles, Renault's government shareholder is under increasing economic pressure from a Europe in financial crisis. A lot rides on the success of the little Zoe, and it's Nissan Leaf stable-mate. I wish Carlos Ghosn good fortune as he steers Renault-Nissan into the future. So
      Sasparilla Fizz
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's interesting to see what people write, the plug-ins are doing better than the hybrids did initially, despite being significantly more expensive (and with some drawbacks, particularly with the Leaf). That said, the lease deals on Leaf's are money loosing instruments for Nissan, not sure how big a chicken that will be when it comes home to roost...although the Leaf v2.0 should be out by then (here's hoping Nissan fixes the Leaf's serious battery design drawbacks with v2.0 and people might buy alot more instead of lease).
        noevfud
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Sasparilla Fizz
        Serious design flaw. The numbers show this not to be the case. In fact they have had few pack issues at all compared to other EVs, the degradation in hot areas is another issue like lost capacity in colder areas. I have one of the very first LEAFs made and still have the exact same capacity as day one and I charge at high rates and use the QC.
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Sasparilla Fizz
        out of 24, 000 only 98 people have experience degrade in battery (which is less than 1%), and that is in the usa, and that is extreme hot areas.So if you live in hot area do not buy the leaf if you are so concern, other wise the leaf does not have an serious issue. Nissan may be or not loosing money by the leaf, but you should pay attention to Ghosn comments at the recent autoshow, that it is an investment and they are not in trouble because they have alot of resources and of course they need motor and battery for the 15 hybrids they will build.. And if you think leaf battery problem is serious than others, take a look at the gs yuasa batteries catching fire and degrading with TMS. you think TMS will solve all problems, it will not, Nissan need to bring the NMC battery that can with stand very high temperature, there will be no need for any TMS.
      Carguy
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think the future for many two car family's will have an EV plus a range extended EV (plug in hybrid). Most of the miles will be driven in EV mode (see Volt stats thus far) but people will have the security of a long distance capable car for those rare trips greater than 100 miles. Battery technology will improve by leaps and bounds - they will get lighter and cheaper and provide more range. Anyone who doesn't see this happening is betting oil companies will stop it or they have blindly agreed to not look at the history of science/technology over the last 100 years.
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      Increase battery capacity to 200 mile range and price the Leaf the same as the Prius. You will see the Leaf fly off the car lots. Ghosen aint no fool. He's just waiting around the corner.
        ericmarseille
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        I was mainly talking about Europe, but sure a Leaf with 200 mile range AND cheaper would be great everywhere. The trouble is that the priciest and heaviest component of an electric car is the battery...Make the car go farther and you have a heavier and much more expensive vehicule...The zoe weights 1450 kgs! that's the weight of a BMW or Mercs! it 's a delicate balance to manage for now.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        And I want the car to be free and come with a free pony. But that is not going to happen.
      • 1 Year Ago
      anyone here seem to forget that EVs r too much expensive, Leaf in USA 50% of the price in Europe, why Europpean should buy Nissan Leaf? Zoe € 24k (and 3 months wait, if not more....more .... more, as usual) still too expensive compared to ICE. Ok for a 20% or so of premium, but did you see the Citroenc C Zero? € 38k, that is absurd .... and you dont even get the clock in the dashboard! Reduce the price and deliver, deliver, deliver, stop promising
      Baldur Norddahl
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am living in Denmark. Our car taxes are somewhat complicated. It used to be that you pay up to 180% car tax on a new car. Electric cars are exempt so this should be a quite a strong incentive. However the tax has deductions. Many safety features, such as each airbag, comes with a discount in the tax. Also high fuel economy enables a discount. And the tax is not linear, you only pay the full 180% of the value above some limit. So mini-cars happened. These cars come with 7 airbags and every other deduction enabling safety-feature. They have super fuel economy. And they are very cheap even before tax. A minicar has to pay only minimal tax. In fact because Denmark has a 25% sales tax (VAT), to which EVs are not exempt, the Leaf will typically pay more in VAT than the minicar pays in VAT+car tax. A typical minicar is sold for USD 20.000 with taxes. The Leaf used to be USD $50.000 (yes 50k!). Now with the 2013 Leaf it is USD $45.000. The Leaf is much larger than a minicar but it is also more than twice as expensive. And I am afraid it appeals to the same target group. About half of the cars sold last year in Denmark were minicars. The EV incentive failed in Denmark because the tax system did not anticipate the flood of super cheap minicars. Take a look at Norway instead. They have the same world high car tax but without the loopholes that allowed super cheap minicars. Norway also has the same incentive of tax free EVs. And the EVs are doing very well there.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Baldur Norddahl
        Thanks Baldur Norddahl for that very interesting commentary. It really goes to show how hard it is to legislate effectively. You may think you are doing the right thing but then the companies will find ways of gaming the system. Adding 7 airbags because each airbag discounts the tax seems like silly trickery. You end up with air bags that are not saving lives, just saving tax.
        Giza Plateau
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Baldur Norddahl
        The primary problem is the price of the Nissan Leaf which is a lot higher than it should be relative to the cost of the parts. If they were fairly priced it wouldn't be necessary with a 100% tax advantage for EVs.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Giza Plateau
          Again . . . you are welcome to build that cheaper EV, Giza. The fact that you are unable to do so indicates that it is just not as easy as you think it is.
      Ford Future
      • 1 Year Ago
      The very premise of this article is not valid. The Leaf is 1 product in a line of Nissan products. There will be NO INVESTORS who ieave Nissan because of the Leaf. Secondly, Nissan's CEO is one of the Few Investors with Guts enough to see a future for the company and attempt to capitalize on it. Battery technology will catch up, that's not a worry. And Nissan will have a COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE and a dealer network in place to take advantage of the shift to EV's. Goshen should "sex up" the EV offering, with a sport model.
        Ford Future
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ford Future
        Goshen is one of the RARE CEO's with Entrepreneurial Spirit. Companies with Innovative CEO's make Much More Money over Time, then 10 year's after, copy cat CEO's. Look at Tillerson, the Incompetent, at Exxon. Stock price goes NO WHERE. So stupid, he funds Climate Change Denial. When your CEO is so incompetent he's only interested in PR Propaganda, your company Under-preforms.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ford Future
          Well Exxon is already a massively hugely valuable company. It is hard to go higher when you are already the King. Just ask Apple. And careful investors are noticing that the reserves replacement problem is being gamed by the oil companies. Instead of barrels of oil, they've switch to barrels of oil equivalent where the equivalent is on an energy basis. Thus, they are using natural gas reserves to prop up their books. The problem with this is that natural gas is not nearly as valuable as oil and thus this is quite misleading.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think the tight oil revolution caught many by surprise. If not for the surge in oil prices from fracturing shales in North Dakota and Texas, I think oil prices would be much higher and the Leaf would be doing better. But that said, the Leaf is making progress and Nissan is probably learning more about making EVs than any other car maker save Tesla. Once oil prices do resume their inevitable upward trajectory, Nissan will be well placed as the most experience EV maker in the biz.
        brotherkenny4
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        What was needed to make tar sands and fracked oil viable was high prices. We have that permanently now. Oil will not and cannot go down in price, because that would make the tar sands and fracked oil uneconomic. If it's uneconomic then they stop producing and if they stop producing demand will not be met, and the prices will rise. The strange but sick part about all of this is that as the price of oil goes up, the oil companies make more money, not less. They have everyone just where they want them. They have most of the money, most of the political support and a world that just wants to burn more oil. Indeed, they have so much political support, all of congress will vote for wars on their behalf. If they had to pay for their own security the price of gasoline would be 8 bucks a gallon.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @brotherkenny4
          Indeed. Anyone who reads these stories about soaring US oil production and thinks that oil prices will drop is in for a rude awakening. At best, the prices will remain where they are. But they could start rising despite all this increased production due to production drops elsewhere (Mexico's Cantarell, the North Sea, Alaska, etc.). The prices will EVENTUALLY start rising again, it is only a question as to when. You are crazy if you buy a gas guzzler these days. Get something fuel efficient as a hedge against rising gas prices.
        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        If all it takes is high gas prices, why aren't EVs flying off lots in Europe ans Japan.
          noevfud
          • 1 Year Ago
          @throwback
          Because they are flying out of the US to Europe via private sale, thousands a year to Norway alone.
          Spiffster
          • 1 Year Ago
          @throwback
          They adjusted to high fuel prices well before EVs were in production. Have you ever been to Europe?
          brotherkenny4
          • 1 Year Ago
          @throwback
          Partially import duties, partially infrastructure, partially that anyone who may consider an EV also likely has public transportation they can take. Partially that a small four cylinder economy car is less expensive on a total cost of ownership for a person who drives less than 8,000 miles a year. Mostly, price has to drop. But, that said, It has and will, and it is mostly up tp the car companies and thus far, Tesla and Nissan are the only ones really trying to sell these. All others are fakers so far.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @throwback
          @Reggie You are good at explaining why YOU don't want a Leaf. But your situation is much different than most Europeans and doesn't reflect the typical European car buyer at all. Thus, your personal views are not very useful.
          Reggie
          • 1 Year Ago
          @throwback
          For EV cars in Europe it's the lacklustre dull styling & price that put off most buyers, when dull is the only dish on menu to buy here. Those that are in the market for a small car like a Leaf all love the idea of owning a electric car, but when it comes to parting with the extra money they end up with lowest common denominator of dull and end up buying a Fiesta diesel/gasoline instead. Love the quirky bulbrous headlights on all Nissan cars that rebel against the dull lacklustre shapes. Have not driven many Nissans in my life 1973 Datsun Cherry LPG, Nissan Note & LV 200 people carrier. To be honest l preferred the Datsun Cherry it was a rust bucket, gearbox was super slick a very nice drive, but best of all it like the Datsun 270z it had bags of personality & charisma by the bucket load. Most folk that l know that buy Nissan buy them because they are very reliable and have very DIY maintenance. Unlike some of the Europeans that have posted here, l do have space for 3 Nissan Leafs in my garage, have off road parking for another 3 Leafs as well on my driveway as well, have enough to buy 4 Leafs with money in the bank, and the mortgage is already paid off with no loans other than the mortgage endowment pays out as well this year and with savings this year could buy another 3 Nissan Leafs this. So you might say why don't Europeans go out and buy a new Leaf? Answer is throwback, l just don't like the dull lacklustre styling of the Leaf, if push came to shove and you twisted my arm and said go out and buy a Nissan, first No 1 choice would be an expensive second hand classic car stylish Datsun 240Z, if you then forced me to buy a new Nissan only by twisting my arm even further, l would probably be a useful utility vehicle theNIssan Navara pick-up truck none of which are very green sad to say. Most folk l talk to in the UK would consider buying an electric vehicle, some could afford one, but they just would not spend the extra money on one as they are dull and lacklustre styling, and some say they are just to expensive and dull. They would rather by a high status BMW or Mercedes diesel instead of a Leaf or Volt, probably maybe the Volt should have been launched as a Caddy E-Rev to better match status- income - to car as Chevy have a bottom of the pile Daewoo Matiz reputation in Europe. At the end of the day l won't buy a new EV or E-Rev until they either ooze character personality & charm of Datsun 240Z the Tesla Roadster is just to expensive and won't carry my family in but l do like it. If you twisted my arm and forced me to buy a green vehicle now which l would love to do, it would have to be a very useful light duty 100 MPG Via Motors Chevy Silverado E-Rev. But it would be totally LHD useless in RHD UK. Sorry if that's not what you want to here, as European nobody here makes the EV that l would want to buy, lacklustre styling and price puts off most Europeans. Car makers don't make EV cars we want its as simple as that.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @throwback
          Yes, I refer to it as the European EV paradox. Here are my main guesses as to why EVs have not sold as well in Europe and Japan: -They use public transportation far more such that their cars are more for weekend long driving. -They don't have as many single-family homes with garages such that it is not as easy for them to install a charger at their home -Their electricity costs are also much higher such that the advantage of EVs is not as big as you might think. -They have a lot more fuel efficient gas/diesel cars available that we don't have here. They just don't have the car culture that we have. Many Europeans don't have cars at all.
      JoeP
      • 1 Year Ago
      I would buy a Leaf if I needed a car and had a place to plug in at home. If we had more cash, we'd buy a RAV4 or a Tesla S. Carlos is right about adoption of electric cars in general, but timing is always different than we expect.
      PeekOyle
      • 1 Year Ago
      They really need to get the battery cost down as it is the biggest cost of the car or perhaps offer a cheaper price just forthe car and a lease option for the battery pack. Reason being that here in Australia the Leaf costs approx $50,000 AUD which is parity with the US dollar so the Leaf costs $50,000 in USD as well. This is because Australia has different tax rules and they don't offer any incentives for EV's. Therefore if people like myself could get the car for $25-30k and lease the battery we would consider it. Otherwise the Leaf is doomed to fail in countries like Australia. I've said this before but I'll say it again. Down I have not seen 1 Nissan Leaf on the road yet we have thousands of hybrids, most of them are taxi cabs.
        Marco Polo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @PeekOyle
        @ PeekOyle Both the Leaf and iMev are fully imported to Australia. (as is the Volt). The Australian Government is very heavily committed to the support of LPG fuel for transport. (LPG being a by product of Australian oil production, and Australia possesses large reserves). Sadly, Australia was the first nation to produce an EV for sale in modern times. Unfortunately, what little support for EV's was available from the ruling Federal Labour/Green Alliance government, was provided to the Mitsubishi iMev importer in preference, since they were a major contributor to the NSW Labour party. Toyota's Prius sold some experimental Taxi's (less than 2%) as a result of State government(s) incentive prorams to expand the numbers of taxi licences. Prius taxi's have largely been replaced by the larger, locally produced, Toyota Camry hybrid . Since the introduction of an ill-conceived and ineffectively devised Carbon Tax, Australia's Ultility prices have doubled and in some instances trebled, making EV's even less attractive. I have just ordered two Volts from GM (Holden) ($ 62,000 each on road). Gm imports on a very limited number of Volt's to Australia, with a very limited range of colours and trim options. The current Labour/Green government stupidly waived the opportunity to have GM select Holden to produce an export orientated up-market Buick Volt, (based on the Ampera body shell). With a local car manufacturing industry struggling to stay in existence, a huge investment in LPG, with the worlds largest infrastructure network, and relatively low gasoline costs, Australia will remain slow to adopt EV's.
        krona2k
        • 1 Year Ago
        @PeekOyle
        Do you really know how much the battery costs? I mean at cost, not based on some per per module retail price scaled up? I don't know either but we've seen this pattern of technological development time and time again. Every time the new technology either ends up being better and not much more expensive or better and cheaper. I don't see any reason why this shouldn't hold true for EVs.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @PeekOyle
        The costs for EVs in Australia are ridiculous. Do they have have huge import duties and no EV incentives? They need to change that. Between all the sun, wind, and coal you have in Oz, EVs should work great.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          @ Spec Australia doesn't really have high import duties any more, but it's expensive to import cars in low volumes due to the ADR rules regarding parts and maintenance. Australia is a huge country with only 23 million people. The cost of infrastructure is very high, and although wind an solar sound great, transmission and capital costs work against the establishment of these industries. Curiously, Australian solar industry was largely destroyed by the excessively zealous, and poorly executed policies of the leftist Labour/Green Party government ! (SilexSolar business scandal). Australia also has virtually no charging infrastructure.
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      There is still 7 years until the end of the decade.... and once things catch on, the ramp up to 10% of Nissan/Renault to sales will be an exponential increase each year. ABG (and Automotive News) thinks too linearly here. They are used to more conventional and status quo type of improvements, not game changing technology. Sales over the long term, will resemble an exponential growth, not linear. And with that, 10% is not so crazy. But between now and then, if Gasoline prices spike significantly again... while consumers have real serious choices for EVs this time... that will be a huge thing.... which will convince automakers to double and triple down on making several EV models, across all segments. That is really the plan, to get a few choices out there. They don't have to be all that appealing while gasoline is cheap... but when the Oil market freaks out again (for whatever reason).... the will be a mass market run on EVs.
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