Carlos Ghosn: GM Merger? Non. Chrysler? Peut-tre…
Carlos Ghosn wants your help, and he isn’t shy about asking for it. In an interview yesterday with The Wall Street Journal, the Renault-Nissan chief announced his intentions to obtain a €40b ($50b) loan package from the French government, in addition to some undisclosed additional quantity of yen from their Japanese counterparts. Today, before a packed house during his keynote address at the LA Auto Show, Ghosn continued along this path, turning his attention to obtaining tax credits and other government assistance here Stateside. Citing October 2008 as the worst month for US car sales in the last 25 years, Ghosn claimed that the severity of current economic conditions were “putting the usual rules of business up in the air” and that “nobody knows” how long these conditions would continue. As he tore a page from Detroit’s eco-efficiency bailout pitch book, Ghosn stressed retooling for the development of Earth-friendly technology as a key driver for receiving state support.
Monsieur “Le Cost Killer” unabashedly advocated a shift in focus away from hybrids — in other words, Toyota — toward pure electrics, stating unequivocally that the “end game is zero emissions…absolutely no emissions.” Naturally, Renault-Nissan won’t be picking up the full tab of the required build out, due to the “interdependence between automaker, government and…third parties” that necessitates that those infrastructure costs be shared. With Nissan’s “GT 2012” business plan centered on building pure electric vehicles, rather than hybrids, you can guess which company stands to benefit most from this proposal.
But wait, there’s more!
Ghosn unveiled a new initiative involving the State of Oregon to support electric vehicle sales there. In accordance with this effort, State governor Ted Kulongoski will be supporting the replacement of The Beaver State’s $1,500 hybrid credit with a $5k incentive for EV buyers. Nissan plans an electric vehicle launch in 2010. These EV’s would be sold using a plan markedly similar to one previously considered by General Motors, which calls for the lithium ion batteries to be leased, including periodic replacement as the technology evolves.
Just don’t look for a future marriage involving the General. When questioned by TTAC, Ghosn politely but openly shot down the notion of a future alliance with General Motors, referencing the failure of his 2006 talks with GM CEO Rick Wagoner as evidence that no alliance could succeed “if there is no mental appetite.” In light of Red Ink Rick’s steadfast refusals to resign, we can only guess who wasn’t craving that meal.
Ghosn was notably more open to a possible deal involving Chrysler, citing the Auburn Hills’ truck portfolio as one of several reasons to possibly pursue a future partnership. Just don’t expect one yet: with the financial markets in turmoil, Ghosn cautioned, “I don’t think that you’ll find any strategic initiation, no matter how attractive it is.”
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