Nissan eyes mainland electric vehicle market
Hong Kong's compact urban setting might make it a perfect start-up point for the introduction of electric cars, but the mainland remains the ultimate goal for carmakers.
Nissan, which has drafted what some consider to be the world's most ambitious electric vehicle (EV) plan, says it hopes one day to become the nation's biggest EV supplier.
The scale of the market makes it a logical target for carmakers. The State Council said last month that at least 500,000 electric and plug-in hybrid cars would be produced by 2015 and five million by 2020.
Most analysts are sceptical about those targets, since the total sales of both conventional and EV cars in the first quarter were less than 2,000.
But Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says it can happen. 'Not only do I believe [in the target], but we are going to contribute to it and make sure the five million target is going to happen,' he said.
The Brazilian-born Frenchman, who was among the first to talk about commercialisation of EVs, returned debt-ridden Nissan to profitability a year after cutting 21,000 jobs, shutting the first of five domestic plants, and auctioning off Nissan's prized aerospace unit.
Today, Nissan is one of the world's most profitable carmakers thanks in part to Ghosn's measures, including investments in emerging markets long before others saw their potential. His bold style slowly won the hearts of the Japanese, who published a superhero comic book series based on his life story and even named a bento meal in his honour.