Nissan Electric Cars Will Be For Mass Market: CEO Ghosn
The success of the Tesla Model S has automakers--particularly German automakers--scrambling to build pricey luxury plug-in electric cars to compete with the upstart from Silicon Valley.
But the automaker that's sold more electric cars than anyone else plans to continue in a different direction.
The Renault Nissan Alliance will concentrate on mass-market electric cars, rather than luxury models, CEO Carlos Ghosn told reporters at the recent Tokyo Motor Show.
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Renault and Nissan will not produce a rival to the Model S or Model X, Ghosn said during a roundtable discussion (via Charged EVs).
"Frankly we are concentrated on the mass market, the core market," he remarked. He said the small sales increases that would result from "going niche" by competing with Tesla aren't what Renault-Nissan is aiming for.
If the company moves in any new direction with electric cars, it will be crossovers, Ghosn said. Crossovers are currently experiencing a boom in the U.S., as well as Europe and China.
Concentration on the mass market could mean the on-again, off-again Infiniti electric car will remain on the back burner.
Since displaying the Infiniti LE concept at the 2012 New York Auto Show, executives have vacillated about committing to a production luxury electric car.
The LE was a four-door sedan based on then-current Nissan Leaf underpinnings, using a 100-kilowatt (134-horsepower) electric motor and 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
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It also featured wireless inductive charging, with a 50-kW DC charging pad that would be placed on a garage floor.
The LE received generally positive reviews for its design, but was gradually deprioritized by the Renault-Nissan brass.
Infiniti recently said that it does not see demand for an electric car, and doesn't expect that to change for at least a few years.
In the short term, Nissan is likely to prioritize the next-generation Leaf.
Expected in 2017 or 2018, the second-generation Leaf will likely offer a variety of electric ranges--with the highest approaching 200 miles.
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It's unclear whether Nissan will add models beyond the second-generation Leaf, but it's been slow to do so up to now.
The Leaf is the only electric car Nissan offers in the U.S., and the e-NV200 electric van is sold in other markets in smaller numbers.
Partner Renault currently offers the subcompact Zoe ZE hatchback, Kangoo ZE small commercial van, and the tiny two-seat Twizy low-speed electric car.