Nissan’s Optimistic as Global Appetite for Electric Cars Strengthens

Nissan Leaf

Due to the world’s strengthening demand for electric vehicles, Nissan (NSANY.PK) says it may well sell more electric vehicles — like its Leaf compact — earlier than previously anticipated, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

“We have every reason to believe our new target is achievable,” Billy Hayes, vice president of Nissan’s global electric-vehicle business, told reporters in an interview on the sidelines of an electric-vehicle exhibition organized by the Korean government on Jeju island.” We believe we can hit it sooner than 2020,” he added.

Hayes noted that more countries are becoming increasingly receptive to alternatives to fossil fuels, which puts Nissan and it’s flagship electric vehicle — the Leaf — in a rather favorable position. Since 2010, Nissan has sold over 100,000 units of the Leaf — a drop in the bucket for the industry at large, but a bonafide flood for the electric and alternative fuels industry.

“It is getting contagious,” Hayes said. This contagious nature of EVs means the company “can hit the number faster,” he added. He stated that it was “encouraging” to see more global governments open the conversation of electric vehicles, as increasingly strict emissions standards around the world give cars like the Leaf — or Renault’s Zoe — an edge. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is also the CEO of the French automaker, Nissan’s sister Renault.

“The nice thing about electric vehicles is that once people own an EV, they don’t want to go back to an [internal combustion engine] vehicle. It is getting contagious [so] fast that we can hit the number faster,” the Journal quoted Hayes as saying.

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Ghosn initially thought that the two companies would be able to sell over 1.5 million combined electric vehicles globally by 2016, but those rosy early estimates have since been revised when it became apparent that it would prove tougher than initially thought.

That number has been pushed back by four years, to 2020, though Hayes seems confident that Nissan can beat those figures before then. Though it’s still far from that goal, Nissan is hoping to get an early jump on emerging markets to complement the strongholds like the U.S. and Canada. ”We’re in discussions with several countries in Asia and South America, although we can’t name them,” Hayes said.

Ghosn and company recently signed a tentative agreement with the government of Bhutan to supply the small country with an order of Leafs to use as the municipal taxi fleet. He also said that Renault — which owns over 40 percent of Nissan — is looking at producing electric cars in China to gain entry to the market.