December 11, 2012
AchiEVable: Nissan LEAF
December 11 – Oppama, Japan – The largest gathering of electric vehicle owners in Japanese history was a perfect chance to touch base with one of the men leading the push, Nissan’s s Corporate Vice President of Zero Emissions Hideaki Watanabe.
The Nissan Global Media Center began asking him the aim in bringing the LEAF owners to Oppama.
Nissan alone cannot do everything. It’s very important to listen to the voice of the customers. That’s one reason that we have to invite the customers, to talk with the actual drivers to understand what’s going on.
At the same time, we want to make momentum, and we want to have the owners talk for themselves. Word of mouth is going to be a very powerful way to convince people, to escalate what we’re doing – why we’re doing it and why it is necessary.
Media Center: In two years courting mainly early adopters, where are sales now?
We’ve already sold 46,000 Nissan LEAFs throughout the world, so this is quite an amazing speed.
Are you happy with that total?
Of course. For sure, sales of Nissan LEAF, or the number of Nissan LEAFs running on the road, make us the leader throughout the world. Our customers are satisfied, but we’re not stopping here.
We’re going to boost up and accelerate this momentum, and do everything to pursue the zero-emission strategy further on.
How does the sales total compare to other new technologies, such as when hybrid vehicles were introduced?
When the first hybrids came out, probably in the first two years they sold about 30,000. In two years we’ve sold 46,000, and the technology is much newer. It’s a significant breakthrough, and we’re selling more than 46,000.
Again, we’re not stopping here. We’re going to boost and localize the production of Nissan LEAF in the U.S. and U.K. and that will accelerate the expansion as well.
Zero-emissions vehicle technology doesn’t stand still. What’s coming down the track?
Of course, we have Pure Drive. This is the improvement of current ICE vehicles – internal combustion engine vehicles. But we have the first zero-emission, 100% electric battery EV. In the future, we might have FCVs, or fuel-cell vehicles, but we’re committed to this zero-emission strategy.
Looking at the environment, it’s evident that climate change is happening. Something’s going wrong, so to have this vehicle mobility in the future for our children and grandchildren, a zero-emission strategy is mandatory. That’s why we’re so committed to pursue this strategy going forward.
What are the advantages of fuel-cell technology?
In the future, there’s going to be a lot of types of zero-emission vehicles, and FCVs will be one type. It might be better suited for bigger cars, but we will also have to work on the infrastructure side as well. The technology is quite common between the battery EV and the fuel-cell EV. So, from that point of view, Nissan has very strong leadership in zero-emissions technologies.
Do you think there will come a day when Nissan will not make ICE cars?
We expect in 2020 that the share of EVs will be around 10%. That means that about 90% will still be combustion engine vehicles. That means we will have to continuously improve ICE vehicles as well.
What about 2050?
You never know. I think in the future there will be various technologies on the road. Probably the option of EV will be one kind of powertrain.
Fuel-cell will be another type of powertrain. A lot of other types of technologies will be hitting the road, I think.