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CEO Speaks on Russia, EVs and Yen in Geneva

Toward the end of the first press day of the Geneva Motor Show, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn spoke with the Global Media Center on growth for Nissan in Russia, the future for EVs, and the ever volatile yen.

Q1. Here we are, at perhaps Europe’s largest, most important Motor Show. Nissan aims to be the No. 1 Asian brand in Europe; market share has just exceeded 4%. Nissan has also recently announced plans for the Almera in Nissan’s biggest European market, Russia. Can you tell us your expectations of Nissan’s growth in the Russian market?

CEO Carlos Ghosn: I think we’re going to benefit from a double trigger in Russia. First, the fact that the Russian market is growing a lot. And, we are increasing market share in the Russian market. Russia is going to be a great story, particularly that now we’re going to be able to be supported by our association with AvtoVAZ and the work with AvtoVAZ using the Togliatti base to localize our product and to be more competitive. So, I think Russia is going to be a great story as long as we continue to do the right job. It’s going to be a great story for Nissan and for Nissan in Europe.

CEO Ghosn at the Nissan stand

Q2. The LEAF in its first year of sales performed better than the Prius and now we see the e-NV200 on stage today. What is your outlook for growth in the EV market over the next few years.

CEO: The Nissan LEAF has started very well, particularly when we take into consideration the fact that all the supply of the LEAF came from Japan. And in 2011, Japan unfortunately suffered a lot of headwinds – not only the strength of the yen, but the destruction of the supply chain due to the earthquake. So with all of this, we sold 25,000 LEAFs, which makes the LEAF the most sold electric car in history. We’re going to double the volume in 2012. And now the offensive of Renault is coming, which means that the offer of the electric car is becoming more sophisticated, more diversified. I’m expecting this pent-up and hidden demand for zero-emission cars to start to bloom now that the offer is going to become a little bit more available and a bit more diversified.

I still stick by the number that 10% of the global market would be electric cars, particularly in the markets in which the electric car is available in 2020.

Nissan Motor CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Geneva Motor Show

Q3. We’re finally seeing a reprieve in the yen’s appreciation. Can you tell us what effects this could have on Nissan’s bottom line – and Japanese manufacturers?  What are your expectations for the yen – will it continue to weaken against the dollar/euro?

CEO: There is some relief, yes, because the yen to the dollar hit 75 or 76, and now we are more in line with 80 and 81. So, it’s a little better. But, frankly, we’re so far from where we should be. We said the yen should be in neutral territory. We’re not asking for a competitive advantage. But at the same time, we don’t want to bear a competitive disadvantage. So we are eager to see the government taking more measures in order to bring the yen back to the 100 yen to the dollar level, which I consider neutral territory. You don’t have an advantage; you don’t have an inconvenience. We are still far from it, even though we have to encourage this step of a little bit into the right direction, which is helping the yen move from 76 to 81.


Coco Masters

Nissan Global Media Center




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