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Nissan’s Ghosn on the Future of the Zero-Emission Car

Can 10% of the cars shipped in 2020 be all-electric?
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I attended a media roundtable and a lecture with Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn at Stanford University’s Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) on Monday. Forbes called Ghosn “the hardest-working man in the brutally competitive global car business.” Ghosn was on the Stanford campus to attend his daughter’s graduation.

Ghosn wouldn’t say anything negative about the Tesla or Chevy Volt — but he did have a lot to say.
• In 2010, there were 73 million cars built globally. Only 20,000 were EVs.
• In 2020, 85 million cars will be sold and 10 percent or 8.5 million will be electric, according to the auto exec.

The reason this market won’t grow faster, according to Ghosn, is because there is not enough investment. Only one group has decided to make a massive investment and that’s Nissan — with an investment of $5 billion so far in zero-emission vehicles. Ghosn said that the car industry is part of the global warming problem and now needs to be part of the solution. No major car company is investing in EVs like Nissan is, he added.

Ghosn noted that in the U.S there are 800 cars for every thousand inhabitants and 600 cars for every thousand Europeans, while China is at 50, India at 15, Indonesia at 35 and Russia at 300.

He asked, “Does anyone think that these countries are going to accept a lower standard of living than the average European country?”
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