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Talk of the Future: CEO Ghosn

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November 20 – Tokyo – Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn revealed the automaker’s new concept cars and models at the opening of the Tokyo Motor Show 2013, with the IDx NISMO and IDx Freeflow, as well as the Nissan GT-R Nismo unveiled Tuesday, bringing media crowds to the stand.

In an interview with the Global Media Center, Ghosn spoke to the appeal of Nissan’s concept cars, the electrification of the car industry, and the importance of the GT-R brand and this year’s new models.

Global Media Center: Among the Nissan stand highlights are the BladeGlider and GT-R Nismo, as well as a new Aero Style for the LEAF. How do the vehicles represent Nissan’s position in the global market?

Carlos Ghosn, CEO

Different cars. First of all, the GT-R Nismo is a commercial car. We’re going to put it on the market. I think it is a way to animate our sales in terms of top, flagship sports car. And I think it’s very promising, because people who are buying these kinds of cars want something thrilling, something particularly powerful and speedy and we get it – and we get it at a very reasonable price.

Now, the concept cars are here to test the appetite, particularly of young people, for a new concept of cars that we have developed in relationship with them – this is what we call co-creation. The motor show is going to be very important because we’re going to see what kind of reaction we’re getting from young people, what kind of reaction we’re getting from young people coming to the show, what kind of reaction we get from social media regarding a decision about when these cars will come to the market.

And then you have one of the hits of the show, which is the BladeGlider, which shows how much electric cars give you in terms of freedom in terms of creating new concepts.

Global Media Center: BladeGlider and ZEOD RC have been two exciting previews of the next generation of EV design and potential development, while more automakers at auto shows are joining the electric march. How much closer is the world getting closer to an EV tipping point?

CEO

All carmakers will come to electric cars. Obviously no one is going to say that electric cars are great as long as they don’t have one. So we’re going to see the market little by little moving in this direction. You’re going to have purely electric cars or plug-in hybrids, which are basically electric cars with an extension of the range.

I think we’re moving surely towards more electrification of the car industry. The tipping point is going to be how much charging infrastructure is going to be built, country by country. This is what’s going to trigger the real take off of electric car sales. I’m very optimistic this is going to happen.

Global Media Center: GT-R has tremendous halo importance for the brand, and now we have the GT-R Nismo. What are your impressions of the change in designs or specifications, and the potential catalytic impact overall for Nissan?

CEO

In fact, we’re coming with two cars, the GT-R and the GT-R Nismo. The new GT-R is much more comfortable, in a sense it is a much more mundane sports car, while the Nismo is going up the ladder of the sports car.

So we are creating two variations of the GT-R. One for people who love the sports car, and who are after acceleration and after power and speed – this is the GT-R Nismo. And one that is a little more mundane, with people who want a sports car but want to drive it under very soft conditions. And hopefully this is going to boost the sales.

Global Media Center:  The new Skyline was launched with an Infiniti badge. What are your expectations for its sales performance in the domestic market?

CEO

I don’t think we are launching Infiniti in the Japanese market. We had to solve the problem that the Skyline everywhere else in the world is an Infiniti car, and in Japan it was a Nissan car. And we had to solve this problem.

People come to Japan and they say, ‘Well, this is not a Nissan, this is an Infiniti.’ So we ended up having this Skyline by Infiniti, which is a way to conciliate the existence of the Infiniti brand and the fact that the Skyline is a very strong name from the Nissan family. It’s done.

I think it’s probably going to boost the sales a little bit. I’m not expecting a huge increase because we made this change.

 

For more from Nissan at the Tokyo Motor Show, here is the archived media briefing.

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