Some quick notes on Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan and Renault, speech and Q & A.
See Oregonian coverage of Mr. Ghosn's announcement of the state of Oregon's public commitment to development of EV charging infrastructure.
Mr. Ghosn added that the state may remove its $1,500 HEV tax credit and replace it with a $5,000 EV credit.
According to Mr. Ghosn, Oregon Governor Kulongoski and Nissan are "...not waiting for a 'someday' solution".
Some general observations on the industry from Mr. Ghosn:
The credit crunch continues. Companies have great difficulty in securing financing. The immediate objective of industry participants is to "maintain [the] company", by avoiding burning cash. He referred to credit conditions as a "pending death threat" to many companies.
October 2008 was worst month for the industry in 25 years, with sales down 35%.
Further industry consolidation is likely, with surviving participants emerging seriously weakened.
The most pressing policy issues, according to Ghosn:
(1) Financial system and US economy
(2) Energy and Environment
(3) Health Care costs
(4) Global economic recession
Mr. Ghosn spoke about the need, even in stressed times, to maintain enough long term investment "until the storm is gone". There is "...always a moment when growth resumes".
Mr. Ghosn repeated Nissan and Renault's commitment to EVs, powered eventually by renewably-generated electricity. In broad terms, he covered the battery leasing model, where an operator (e.g., Better Place) or the OEM would retain ownership of an exchangeable and upgradeable battery and receive a lease or other recurring payment from the consumer. He listed countries, states, cities and provinces already committed to some form of EV infrastructure development. He reiterated mass market availability of a wide range of vehicles by 2012.
Mr. Ghosn has received "numerous" calls from political leaders around the world inquiring how they might enable EVs. He believes significant tax incentives would be necessary for consumers as well as investments by operators, governments and utilities in charging infrastructure. He also identified scale as a key factor for success. He intends to offer batteries from Nissan's joint venture with NEC to other OEMs.