Nissan COO to Take over Electric Car Unit in April Following Sluggish EV Sales
March 12, 2013 8:36 AM
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Can the company COO overcome poor demand?
The electric vehicle industry is still struggling to capture the dollars of consumers around the world. Pure electric vehicles still sell in very low numbers making them nothing but a niche market for most automakers. The sales of hybrid vehicles are doing better, but most consumers still choose traditional gasoline-only vehicles (at least in the U.S.).
Nissan announced this week that COO Toshiyuki Shiga would begin to oversee the company’s zero emission vehicle strategy and battery-powered vehicle businesses starting on April 1. Hideaki Watanabe, who was corporate vice president at the electric car division, previously ran the division.
Watanabe has been moved to supplier Calsonic Kansei Corp where he will act as senior vice president.
"Chief Operating Officer Shiga is taking direct responsibility of zero emission efforts because the business is Nissan's top priority which requires global and cross-functional efforts," Chris Keeffe, told
The Detroit News
in a phone interview.
Nissan has been struggling with sales of its pure electric Leaf for quite some time. The company announced in late 2012 that it would
of its goal of selling 20,000 units during the year. By the time November of 2012 rolled around, Nissan had only sold 6,791 Leaf electric vehicles for the entire year making 10,000 look like an impossible number for all of 2012.
Nissan is looking at many possibilities to help improve the popularity of its electric vehicle. One key move Nissan has made is to
cut the base price
of the Leaf by a bit over $6,000 to $28,800. Most of that price reduction is due to the fact that Nissan moved production of the Leaf from Japan to Tennessee for U.S. customers.
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Electric Car Division vs COO
3/12/2013 11:01:57 AM
Where did the Electric Car Division fall in Nissan's corporate structure before? R&D? If so, then I'd guess this is actually putting the final nail in the coffin for the Leaf (regardless of the positive spin). With the Electric Car Division now under the Chief Operating Officer, I'd assume it would have to meet the same standards of profitability that Nissan's other vehicles have to meet. So, right now, the COO is probably saying something like "you have 6 months to show a profit (or at least keep one assembly line fully occupied). Otherwise, it's the axe for you."
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