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by Daniel DeGasperi

Nissan has hit back at plans by Volkswagen to become the electric vehicle market leader by 2018, while reaffirming its own aim to increase range to 200km on Leaf and introduce four new electric vehicles to market within two years.

Speaking at the Frankfurt motor show, Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer started by recalling history.

“What did our friends at VW call it [growth of electric cars]? ‘Ludicrous’ I think the word was used in 2010. They’ve proven our argument correct, except we’ve got a four-year start on them.

“We’ve got cars in the market, we’ve gone through all the teething pains of launching in hot countries, cold countries … We’ve got 75,000 cars out there connected to the internet, it’s a huge advantage.

“And they don’t have one single car yet…”

Volkswagen e-Golf - 2

About Volkswagen’s bold claim to become the number one electric vehicle manufacturer within five years, Palmer responded “yeah but we say that too, don’t we? One of us is going to be right…”

“It’s gone a long way in two-and-a-half years,” he says, both in terms of the number of electric vehicle offerings in the pipeline from manufacturers and also the changed attitudes.

“From people saying this is failed technology, it’ll never take off, every month your sales have failed.

“It’s not a question anymore, the question is how much of your portfolio is going to be EV, when’s the next one coming, to the ones [manufacturers] that haven’t got the technology, ‘why don’t you have the technology?’ so I think we’re in a very good space.”

Nissan-Andy Palmer_lores

Asked whether Palmer (above) feels threatened by dedicated-EV upstart Tesla, he responded with “I welcome them.”

“Them among any other players have made EVs cool. The fact that some people have gone up there, in a space we don’t occupy [luxury segment], and basically created a halo around a brand that is pure-EV.

“I think it’s complimentary. And we both enjoy now the ability to sell credits to other guys that didn’t move with us. So respect to Elon [Musk – founder].”

Palmer also maintained the brand’s commitment to introducing four new dedicated electric vehicles in the next two years, including a new Leaf, e-NV200 taxi (below), Infiniti LE and “in the mid-term” a city car to rival the Chevrolet Spark EV that will share hardware with the Renault Zoe.

Nissan to Create Integrated Mobility Solution for NV200 Taxi wit

The challenge now, Palmer tells, is to increase battery capacity without adding more size and weight. He confirmed the Nissan Leaf will soon get another upgrade increasing its range to at least 200km to match the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, and exceed the all-electric version of the BMW i3, both of which were shown at the Frankfurt motor show.

Battery technology is moving “much faster than I ever believed,” according to Palmer. “We imagined a four year cycle for a battery, then we were on a two year cycle, now we’re modifying the battery every year.

“At some point in the future we can be priced equal to a gasoline competitor without the need for incentives.”

The executive vice president therefore maintains Nissan has no regrets in investing heavily into electric cars, rather than providing more hybrids for the market.


“If you want to be a ‘me too’ – there’s plenty of ‘me toos’ out there actually there’s another Japanese car manufacturer they did a car called the Insight, remember that? No, exactly – so it’s easy to be ‘me too’ it’s much more difficult to be brave and carve out your own space.

“I say Nissan to you guys you’re probably going to say GT-R or Leaf. I say Toyota, you’re probably going to say Prius. Volkswagen? Might say diesel engines.

“Two years from now you say Nissan, you’re going to say connected, electric, autonomous. Because that’s our road map. You’ll be getting the opportunity in two years to experience that the development is real, that we’ll be able to demonstrate it in different locations.

“Electric and cars is inevitable as tax and death”.

  • Chen Wu

    Dear Daniel,

    Volkswagen have been at it again with a back tracks! Haha! The tides turned, people are keen to start with their car to reduce emission. If you wealthy to afford 3 Series / Lexus IS, well maybe buy a Volt instead. Volt has eye water styles and unique powertrain. GM is at its best here!

    But Nissan has a Leaf, and it can be commendable for innovate. Only issue is how is she going to travel any distance? Volt solves their issue in this respect.

    Nissan have been at it longer with most probable commitment. VW have been back tracks when they realized diesel is not long-term, just in mid-terms for reducing an emission solution.

    Just maybe we should erase this from history so we can all focus of our electric motoring futures! No more lashes out from Nissan. No more climate change denying from VW. Just work together to help electric car.

    Best day,
    Chen Wu

    • OGU

      Renault – Nissan have shown clear leadership in EV, experience says a lot. Its interesting for VW to make this claim. perhaps they like the fact that EV doesn’t require so many moving parts & that will improve their reliability. No more DSG, no more Diesel injectors.
      As to the issue of range, I can’t help but think we’re all kidding ourselves as to the importance of this. How many Australian homes have more than one car parked in the drive (or on the street) and therefore why not have a city / town car that could be charged each night, just like your mobile phone, before its next day’s work running about the suburbs. Therefore why compromised with half-baked solutions with ‘range extension’. A pure EV, a car that does not produce any emissions is very easy to live with and great to drive. It’s an unwarranted fear that holds people back.

      • Randy

        Hint, hint… I live on 54 acres in the middle of no where and the nearest Leaf dealer is 70 miles away… I have to drive half an hour to get to a hospital.

        The Leaf works for me.

  • F1orce

    So Nissan would rather be associated with the Leaf instead of the GTR?

    • Hung Low

      I think one has a commercial future and the other will be a showcase and reminder of the brands capabilities.

      • F1orce

        Perhaps, but I see far more GTRs on the road than Leafs..

        • Hung Low

          I am hoping within a decade, fully electric cars are competitive price wise. If the Leaf or Volt sold for 22k on road, it would be a no brainer for daily commuting and no dependency for gasoline.

          • F1orce

            The Nissan Leaf is at a affordable 39k driveaway. Anyone buying a new car can buy one. But they don’t because its simply an unattractive option. If EVs were the better alternative than we all would be using them, but they’re simply not. So obviously price is of no problem.

            And I think we’re still quite far off from a highway ready EV at 22k

          • Randy

            The Leaf starts at 199 a month for a lease and 21,300 after tax incentives. It has an EPA estimated range of 84 miles at a full charge.

            For me, the car literally pays for itself in gas. So I don’t see what the issue is.

          • Norm

            Maybe not highway ready but urban runabouts no problem. My friend just bought a new Mitsubishi iMiev for $22k as the family’s second car. Loves it. There’s plenty on Carsales at around the $24 – $26k mark and a barely second hand one for $17k. That’s approaching good value.

            The Leaf is a far more substantial car than the iMiev but $40k ain’t never gonna work.

            Pity the Renault Zoe isn’t coming to Oz.

          • Hung Low

            Not many are going to pay almost double for a small car that will not yet suffice for the only means of transport in the family due to its limited range. Nobody will pay the premium for the whole electric novelty either.
            Cars like this are more justifiable as a second car, especially if there is price parity to its gasoline powered class opposition.
            If the Leaf was I30, Corolla prices, its sales would grow exponentially.

          • Randy

            After tax rebates, the Leaf starts at 21,300.

  • Tone

    Meanwhile, Tesla will most likely smack both Nissan and VW upside the head when they least expect it…

    • Guest

      Which would be typical of elon musk.

  • Lang Chye

    When will Nissan release the updated LEAF in AU, which is already available in US, JP, UK & other overseas market?