By on October 27, 2010

No automaker has more to gain –and lose– in the early-adopter EV game than Renault-Nissan, and CEO Carlos Ghosn knows how the game is played. Nissan is investing $4b to rollout electric cars in the US, Japan and select Western European markets at the end of this year, but despite being committed, Ghosn insists that EVs aren’t ready to stand on their own yet.He tells Automotive News [sub] that

These are mature markets where governments give incentives to consumers. Two years of government support are needed to jump-start these markets and then the products will grow on their own and take off
Nissan has already received $1.4b in retooling loans from the US government, and its Leaf EV will be eligible for $7,500 consumer tax credits for its first 200k sales, for another $1.5b in government support. Nissan also supports the so-called “Roadmap to Electrification” which could end up costing taxpayers as much as $124b more. Carlos is smart: asking for government assistance should always be phrased in terms of years, not dollar amounts… and at least he’s willing to accept that EVs will eventually stand on their own. After all, GM is already pushing for extensions to consumer tax credits, arguing that its second generation of vehicles (which are at least three years out) will need continued support. If the government makes an open-ended commitment to supporting EVs at all costs, how will they ever mature into commercially viable products?

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7 Comments on “Carlos Ghosn Sees His Shadow, Requires Two More Years Of EV Subsidies...”

  • avatar

    US airlines and aircraft manufacturers got and continue to get huge subsidies. The railroads were given vast amounts of western land to encourage them to build lines in the west. Transit gets subsidized wherever it exists. Highways are huge subsidies to the automobile and trucking industries. Not saying that’s right or wrong, just that it is the way change happens.

    • 0 avatar

      I think a key difference is that, in those two other cases, there were no reasonable substitutes. The airline anti-deregulation movement argued that airlines equated to a public utility, especially for people living in areas that wouldn’t be profitably served by a free market. Trains were subsidized because of the revolutionary increase in speed for tourism and commerce. Today, trains are subsidized for…um….I’m not sure. I’ve only ridden on Amtrak twice in my life.
      I think it becomes a harder sell with electric cars, since they’re still just viewed as cars. In other words, the change doesn’t seem revolutionary or sustainable enough to easily sell the idea of subsidies.

  • avatar

    Ghosn is a really smart guy, but I still feel like he’s skipping a step in failing to bring Renault diesels into the smaller Nissans. What better way to jump-start lagging Versa or Sentra sales than by offering ~45 mpg to fight Ford’s new Fiesta campaign? Yes, I’ve heard all the naysayers’ arguments, from the intelligent (gas engines are nearing diesel efficiency) to the completely idiotic ones (diesel is like $5/gallon in my neighborhood, if you can even find it!)
    Diesels aren’t the sole answer, nor are electrics or hybrids or ever-more-efficient gassers. But diversifying into all of them helps keep the options open for the future, even if electric subsidies dry up.

  • avatar

    Do you remember any subsidies for railway companies to drop steam engines? I can’t.

  • avatar

    How to make the big bucks in progressive hellholes in the latter stages of socioeconomic free fall:
    Quit wasting resources building things customers want, for prices customers are willing to pay. That’s like, so unsophistimecated, like, they did it in, like, Dickens books and stuff, the expert on TV said.
    Instead spend the resources so saved, on sucking up to the childish delusions of progressive alpha dimwits, secure in the knowledge their legions of public school indoctrinated fanbois will cheer them on as they pitch their thug armies at anyone even remotely productive; reliably robbing them on your behalf. Then sit back and enjoy the unfettered admiration of the same fanbois, as they hail you, the Great Business Leader; just like the expert on TV tells them to.
    While the West, predictably, and heck thankfully judging by where this is heading, goes the way of the Romans. At least those Taliban Hiluxes, handling deficient or not, can be had with some nice, beltfed kit on the back; which is more than one can say for any car or truck in this once was Land Of The Free.

  • avatar

    I like the Leaf, but not subsidies.  If Ghosn gets his wish for two more years, he should be held accountable to that when the clock expires.

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