Nissan: EVs And Autonomous Tech Are Key To Growth In US, Europe

Nissan wants to grow its market share in the U.S. and Europe, naming electric vehicles and autonomous tech as two segments key to its expansion.

In the U.S. last year, Nissan and its luxury division, Infiniti, claimed 8.4-percent of the auto market. Nissan North America Chairman Jose Munoz announced previously that he wants to raise this to 10-percent, and is now estimating the company will hit that mark before his original target of March 2017.

“I think that we may see the 10 percent overachieved earlier than expected,” Munoz said.

Though electrified vehicle sales only account for about 3.6-percent of all auto sales – the battery electric segment, in particular, is less than a third of that – Nissan said the Leaf’s success is furthering the company’s reputation and attracting new customers to the brand. It 2014, the Leaf continually set new sales records, beating out the Chevrolet Volt and Tesla Model S for total units sold.

SEE ALSO: Nissan Prepping For The Day Federal Consumer EV Credits Begin Drying Up

“Now in its fifth model year, Nissan Leaf is more popular than ever and continues to bring new buyers to Nissan,” said Brendan Jones, director, Nissan Electric Vehicle Sales and Infrastructure.

“We’re confident that EV sales will continue to rise over time due to increasing emission regulations and other reasons for purchase of EVs such as lower operating costs, reducing dependence on foreign energy sources, environmental concerns and a great driving experience.”

And Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co., said he isn’t worried about more competition in the segment.

“We don’t consider that other people making electric cars are competitors; we consider them allies,” said Ghosn. “Because today, the battle is not who is going to have the biggest share of the electric car business. It’s about how many companies are going to join in promoting zero-emission transportation.”

Ghosn is also projecting that autonomous drive will become a “megatrend.” The company is developing a two-stage plan to integrate these technologies into its products.

“All carmakers are developing this technology because it will make cars safer,” Ghosn said during the opening keynote session of Mobile World Congress 2015. “It’s going to come in waves.”

Nissan is using a similar strategy in Europe, with the intent of becoming “the most desirable Asian brand” for the region.

“Crossover, electric vehicles and autonomous drive technology are central to this aspiration and Nissan will continue to defend and grow its leadership of these areas,” said Nissan.

According to the company’s figures, as of the end of January Nissan has sold 222,000 EVs worldwide since introducing the Leaf in 2010.

“Nissan’s success in sales and strong manufacturing has resulted in award-winning products in fast-growing segments like EV with 15,000 Leafs sold in Europe in 2014,” Nissan said.

“This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Nissan Leaf and new additions to Nissan’s electric vehicle offering this year will include a seven-seat version of the e-NV200 and a special edition Leaf.