Nissan Management Changes to Benefit Electric Car Sales : Automobile giant Nissan Motor has this week confirmed that the company’s chief operating officer will now take control of the electric vehicle division. This will be in addition to his high-profile role at the top of the company’s pecking order and while a little disappointing in the short term, due to the fact it occurred because of disappointing sales, it is good news for the future.

The company had hoped to sell 20,000 units of its award-winning Nissan Leaf electric vehicle into the US market during 2012 although unfortunately final sales were less than 10,000 last year. This prompted a major rethink with regards to the company’s electric vehicle business hence the management shakeup and more high-profile strategy going forward.

The Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf is one of the more popular electric vehicles available today and was being used by Nissan as a means to crack the US market. While the company did increase sales dramatically compared to 2011, it was from a relatively low base and no progress was made with regards to the 20,000 unit target.

Interestingly, the company seems to have recognised the failing sales of the Nissan Leaf during 2012 having brought out what is known as an “entry level” version. This was ahead of the launch of the Nissan Leaf 2013 upgrade which will incorporate the most efficient electric motor technology available, as well as additional technology for in car systems and also offer a journey capacity approaching 150 miles.

Is Nissan serious about the electric vehicle market?

While there is no getting away from the fact that sales of electric vehicles overall were disappointing during 2012 compared to projections, this is not the end of the world. We must appreciate that the worldwide economy is struggling, individual countries are struggling to control their budgets and to all intents and purposes electric vehicles are not exactly top of the political agenda.

However, during this difficult period for automobile sales as a whole the likes of Nissan have always been very supportive of the industry both in terms of time, money and effort. Only last year the company was suggesting that electric car sales would make up of worldwide automobile sales by the end of the decade which was certainly a very positive forecast going forward. Whether or not sales will reach this target during the current decade remains to be seen although there are signs of movement.

Too far to turn back now

The fact that the electric car industry has been around for in excess of 200 years is often overlooked by the general public. Electric cars have experienced a number of false dawns over the last 30 or 40 years and indeed the debacle of the turn-of-the-century involving the EV1 perfectly illustrates this fact. However, companies such as Nissan, governments around the world and, to a lesser extent, consumers have invested far too much time, money and effort to allow the industry to fail once again.

Recently we saw the likes of China stepping forward to support the electric vehicle industry, we saw the Chinese authorities funding local companies to acquire overseas electric vehicle assets and the government of China also issued a number of very upbeat and promising sales forecasts. There is momentum behind the electric vehicle market, there is finance available and the technology is certainly improving on a month by month basis. It will be interesting to see whether 2013 is indeed the turning point many are predicting for the EV market and whether those who have fallen by the wayside, reduced their expenditure and dismissed their exposure will regret their relatively short-term approach to a long-term industry.

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