Global carmakers need to change their plodding ways, and embrace “massive change of our products,” Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said today. “The car has seen rapid change in the past ten years,” Ghosn told leaders of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry today in Tokyo. “Let me tell you, the car five to ten years down the road is going to be much more different from the one today.”
Ghosn predicted that five to ten years down the road, “zero and low emission cars will be the majority.” Cars will be heavily connected. “What we see today in terms of car connectivity is very limited compared to what we are going to see five, ten years down the road,” Ghosn said. The car will be autonomous. “More and more you are going to give up driving to the car,” Ghosn predicted.
One rarely discussed trend is that towards the very low cost car. Rarely discussed, because the low-end segment seems to be a much bigger hurdle for OEMs than high technology. “To create a very low cost car is not possible in Japan, in the U.S., in Europe, not even in China,” Ghosn concedes. To bring the price down, OEMs need to immerse themselves into a culture of frugality. Renault introduced a sub-$5000 cross-over to India, the Kwid, based on a new modular platform. Platform and car were developed in India.
“We had to go to India, because the engineers in India are very frugal,” Ghosn explained. “These people have a culture of frugality. They can make something out of nothing, because this is the way Indian society developed. By taking Nissan know-how, and Nissan engineers, and Nissan technology, and putting them in Chennai, India, and surrounding them with Indian engineers, we are capable of doing products that neither Indians can do alone, nor the Japanese.”