April 17, 2012
CEO Unplugged: Nissan’s Battery Business
Q1) How has the Zama battery factory been a template for Nissan to expand the business in other global production centers?
CEO Carlos Ghosn:
Zama is a very important place for our battery strategy because it’s a mother plant, and it’s a place where not only do we fine tune the process, we enhance the process, we train the people, we prepare the equipment, but we also try to imagine the process of tomorrow. So, it’s not only a production facility, it is also a facility where we are trying all the improvements we can make in order to make the battery much more efficient.
Frankly, I’ve been very impressed. This is my third visit to Zama, and compared to my last visit, a lot of improvements have been made. And the most striking one is the fact that since the month of August, we have had zero problems with customers based on sales and based on packaging – zero.
This means that we’re not only the largest producer of cells, we’re also the best producer of cells, because I don’t think that anybody today has the level of quality and reliability that we are reaching. And this is very impressive.
Q2) What expectations do you have for advances in battery technology and how will that advance the global rollout of EVs?
When we reach zero level of quality problems, we need to keep that – those are excellent results. We’re talking about zero problems for the consumer, but, obviously, internally, we still have some [problems] that we are eliminating. That’s No. 1.
No. 2 is reducing the cost. The cost of the cells and the battery is due to the fact that we are in Japan and we are facing the headwind of the yen, so we need to compensate for this by improvement on the material, by improvement on the process, by improvement on the indirect costs.
I’m very encouraged to see how many ideas and how many objectives the team has taken upon itself to overcome some of the challenges coming from outside headwinds.
Q3) Nissan has a joint venture with Sumitomo to develop secondary uses for EV batteries. What possibilities are there ahead for commercial or residential use?
I think the battery has a much longer life than that in a car. In order to develop the cost-car life of the battery, we need people who are specialized into what are the different uses of the battery outside of the car.
And our joint venture with Sumitomo is to make sure that after the battery is used in the car it is still a valuable good that can be used in other places.
I’m extremely confident that we’re going to find enough uses for the battery to continue a normal [product] life. By the way, it is going to benefit the owner of the car because the resale value of the battery will go up.
So, I think that by developing the different utilization of the battery after its use in the car, we are just making the battery much more cost effective for the owner of the car.
Producer, Global Media Center