This weeks updates
LEAF vs. Volt – Real world
We generally don’t send our readers off to other blogs, but there is a real-world LEAF and Volt comparison article written by a person that actually owns one of each. The article is a decent representation of several months ownership and a combined 7,000 miles of driving experience.
Carlos Ghosn speaks at Stanford
Carlos Ghosn, head of Nissan and Renault, spoke at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research this week and had some pretty interesting things to say regarding Nissan’s approach to what they call “Sustainable Mobility”.
Mr. Ghosn addressed four primary points:
1. As the global economy develops, oil prices will go up. None of the world’s developed economies are in high growth modes currently. As economies globally improve, oil demand will rise resulting in higher oil prices.
2. Most emerging markets and the world’s largest market are heavy importers of oil. The political problem exists of relying on foreign oil as world demand for oil is increasing.
3. Environmental concerns – the auto industry is being perceived as part of the problem. It needs to be perceived as part of the solution. (This is where I differ with Mr. Ghosn’s assessment – the automobile industry is part of the problem. It is not just a perception.)
4. Observers have called the automobile industry a stagnant, or non-growing, market. While true in the United States, Europe and Japan, it is not true in developing markets. Mr. Ghosn cites the following numbers:
In the United States there are 800 cars per 1,000 people. All numbers below are per 1,000 people.
While his point was not that all markets will reach the size of the United States market, there is vast room for growth in these developing markets. That is why we need a breakthrough technology that moves away from gasoline. Mr. Ghosn cited pure electric vehicles (EVs), but also fuel cell vehicles, which Nissan also has under development. In his view, fuel cell vehicles are still 10 years from being available as a mass-market alternative due to cost.
Finally, Mr. Ghosn announced that there should be 1,500 Nissan LEAFs delivered in the United States in the month of June. This would be a significant percentage increase over the 1,152 LEAFs delivered in the month of May. Mr. Ghosn acknowledged that initial low relative sales numbers are not due to lack of demand, but due to production constraints. To that point, he had this to say “We are ramping up production, and we are concentrating mainly into producing more cars in order to satisfy the demand”.
While Mr. Ghosn is looking to see EVs make up 10% of the global automobile market by 2020, we just don’t see that as a reality. Currently Nissan has the largest production plans known in the industry – to produce 250,000 Nissan LEAFs per year by 2014. While Nissan has other EVs in the works, as do other manufacturers, we just don’t see that capacity will increase enough in the next nine years to get us to that 10% number. Still, moving in the direction of more EVs on the road means that we are moving in the right direction.
Here is a link to a video of the presentation if you would like to view it in its entirety.