PARIS – Renault and Nissan remain committed to electric vehicles, but not to the exclusion of hybrids, plug-ins, diesels and other powertrains of interest to customers.
“We are not happy with our sales,” says Carlos Ghosn, CEO of both comapnies. “We are not getting a fair return on our investments.” However, he says, customers today, especially younger ones, want a clean environment, and that means EVs.
Sales of EVs are slowed by the lack of recharging infrastructure and dealers’ reluctance to offer them, Ghosn says during a roundtable discussion with journalists at the Paris auto show.
“Dealers are more interested in classic car sales,” he says, partly because “it takes two or three times longer to sell an electric vehicle.”
There are many obstacles to EV sales, Ghosn acknowledges, “but each one can be overcome.” He says the Renault-Nissan Alliance will continue lobbying for government and infrastructure-development support and will continue trying to train dealers in EV sales.
In Europe, says Jerome Stoll, Renault executive vice president-performance, more companies are coming to Renault to add EVs to their fleets. He says the automaker sold 2,000 EVs in September, three times more than a year earlier.
In the U.S., Ghosn says, 80% of Nissan’s EV sales occur in four cities: Atlanta, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco. Atlanta, surprisingly, is the best market, accounting for nearly 30% of U.S. volume and 1,000 units in August. Imagine, says Ghosn, how much the market has to grow in cities like Chicago, New York, Miami and others.
Besides clean air, Ghosn sees a desire for more time and for more pleasure, and both of those will be answered by autonomous cars.
“Autonomous cars are not self-driving cars,” he says. They are cars in which the driver can drive, or ask the car to take over to get him to his destination.