Carlos Ghosn: Due to the late arrival of infrastructure, there will be a slight delay in the success of the EV. Fuel cell cars remain grounded

Ghosn close - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

tmsbannerNissan’s and Renault’s co-CEO Carlos Ghosn famously (and some claim recklessly) projected 1.5 million electric vehicles to be sold between Nissan and Renault when 2016 rolls around.

“Was that optimistic? Obviously it was,” Ghosn granted at the Tokyo Motor Show. Nissan and Renault combined have so sold 120,000 electric vehicles. Nevertheless, Ghosn maintains the 1.5 million target, just not by 2016.Ghosn hand - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt


“Reality pushes us to say it will probably take two or three more years after 2016,” Ghosn conceded, while cautioning that “you can’t expect everything to be going as you plan it.”  In case the new electric timeline won’t work out as rescheduled, Ghosn already knows who is responsible: The government. Or rather the governments of this world.  Said Ghosn:

“Infrastructure appears more and more as the main blockage. If there is no infrastructure, there will be no sales of electric cars above a certain limit. Every time there is infrastructure established, we see sales of EVs take off.”

Ghosn Nikkei reporter - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

Rather than incentivizing EV purchases, Ghosn thinks governments should invest money in building up charging infrastructure:

“We are not counting indefinitely on financial support for EV purchases. What we are putting on number one is the development of infrastructure.”

Ghosn thinks  - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt
The limited range of an EV is not the main point that makes customers shy away from EVs, Ghosn said. It’s where can I charge when the range is exhausted.

“If I come to whatever range I have, where do I charge my car? You don’t care about the range of your gasoline-powered car, because you know there are gas stations everywhere when you need them.”

Ghosn slow down -2- Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

While still bullish on EVs, Ghosn doesn’t see a fast ascend of the hydrogen-powered fuel cell car. It’s not the oft-cited technical challenges, Ghosn said. “We know how to build the cars.” It’s infrastructure again, and in that regard, fuel cell cars must climb a much taller mountain than EVs, Ghosn predicts:

“If you imagine how slow the development of electrical infrastructure is – especially when considering that electricity is everywhere – you can imagine how long it is going to take to have a hydrogen infrastructure.”

Ghosn smiles - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

“Not before 2020” does Ghosn expect the world to be ready to fill hydrogen tanks whenever and wherever they are empty. Coincidentally, Toyota thinks that when hydrogen cars will get interesting.