Renegade former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, who put the company ahead in the electric boom with the original Leaf, says his ex-company is falling behind and lacks vision.
Speaking in online news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, as reported by Autonews, Mr Ghosn said newcomers to the industry including Tesla and various new Chinese automakers had gained an advantage over legacy players like Nissan.
Claiming vindication for his early move with the first Leaf in 2010 – “everybody was laughing at us,” he said – Mr Ghosn added that his ex-employer now “have no image about this huge technological transformation that is taking place”.
Nissan recently announced it’ll be spending ¥2 trillion (A$24.57 billion) on electrification over the next five years.
The company’s Ambition 2030 vision will see it bring 23 electrified models, including 15 new electric vehicles (EVs), to the market by fiscal year 2030, as well as introduce solid-state batteries by fiscal year 2028.
Over the next five years, it’ll introduce 20 new models with electric or e-Power powetrains.
By that time, it wants to have an electrification mix of more than 50 per cent globally across both the Nissan and Infiniti brands.
“They are really in a very bad position in this race,” said Mr Ghosn, regardless.
“There is no vision. They don’t know where they’re going.”
“When you see the investments being done [all over the industry], I don’t think it’s too much,” said Mr Ghosn. He also pointed out Tesla that recently surpassed a market valuation of US$1 trillion (A$1.4 trillion).
“The market is moving with the right amount of money at the right speed. We’re going 100 per cent electric. The market is telling you we are completely writing off the combustion engine.”
As part of its Ambition 2030 vision announcement as well, Nissan unveiled four electric concepts said to demonstrate what’s in its electric future.
Pictured: Nissan Surf-Out (left), Nissan Max-Out (middle), Nissan Hang-Out (right) concepts
These concepts are called the following: the Chill-Out, the Max-Out, the Surf-Out, and the Hang-Out.
Mr Ghosn is currently an international fugitive and is living in Lebanon which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Japan.
He was indicted four times in Japan over allegations of financial misconduct and fled the country inside a box in December 2019.
Mr Ghosn still maintains his innocence to this day.
Nissan’s only current electrified offering in Australia is the Leaf, though e-Power hybrids begin in 2022.
Available in either regular and e+ guise, both variants are powered by a single electric motor that in the regular model pumps out 110kW/320Nm and in the Leaf e+ model produces 160kW/340Nm.
Regular Leaf models come with a 40kWh battery pack good for a range of 270km, whereas Leaf e+ models come with a 62kWh battery pack with a claimed range of 385km.
Both batteries are rated at 350V, though the e+ is capable of 100kW DC charging while the standard Leaf makes do with 50kW DC charging.
In 2022 Nissan will begin selling an electrified e-Power variant of the Qashqai, which uses a combustion engine as a generator that powers a small battery, which in turn spins the electric motor. It’s likely a larger X-Trail e-Power variant will follow as well.=
The brand’s new Ariya electric SUV is scheduled to start mass-production by the end of March 2022.
It’s built on a new platform, will offer a choice of single-motor front-wheel drive or dual-motor all-wheel drive variants, and will come with either 65kWh or 90kWh battery packs.
Its Australian launch timing still remains unclear though, with Nissan Australia hinting towards a 2023 launch at the earliest.
The company has also overhauled its Tochigi plant with new autonomous manufacturing processes that are set to become the blueprint for its future sites.
Nissan is also exploring trials where it can use repurposed Leaf batteries as a back-up power supply.
The automaker most recently detailed how it’s using these used Leaf lithium-ion battery packs at a railway crossing where they replaced the lead-acid batteries that are typically installed.