jlsoaz
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some comments on Nissan EV Strategy

Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:30 am

Hi -

In another thread I made a comment on a point of past Nissan EV strategy, and some discussion ensued, but it was of tenuous relevance to the thread topic, so I am starting a thread here. I don't know if there are already any existing threads for discussion of Nissan EV Strategy past and present.

If we put ourselves in the shoes of those who participate in strategy decisions that have significant consequences for a major corporation, we can understand it can be challenging. So, personally, I bear this in mind.
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SageBrush
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Re: some comments on Nissan EV Strategy

Tue Aug 18, 2020 10:14 am

I think the Nissan EV strategy was reasonable back in the day, and it is arguably reasonable today if the discussion is the LEAF and its no TMS battery.

My peeve is with the warranty and Nissan's treatment of customers. An 8 year, 30% degradation, pro-rated warranty after 8 years would be fine. The current case where Nissan tells customers to pound sound if the degradation limit is reached 1 second after the warranty expires is why I will not consider, let alone buy, another Nissan EV. If Nissan has to exclude the hottest states from the decent warranty then so be it.

Put another way, I reject the Nissan strategy that engineers an EV to fail soon after the their warranty expires, and I think the failure of the LEAF in the US marketplace is easily traced to this corporate decision. Not content to just screw their customers with the current battery warranty, Nissan tries to prevent 3rd party battery upgrades and refuses to offer an upgrade path. If Nissan can not do better warranty wise and still produce a profitable EV line then they are in the wrong business. And they really should learn to not treat their current customers like garbage.
Last edited by SageBrush on Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Nubo
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Re: some comments on Nissan EV Strategy

Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:04 pm

I'm not sure I'd call it a "strategy". I think LEAF *project* was strategic, and was heavily advocated by Carlos Ghosn as the inevitable future direction of auto manufacturing. The subsequent reveal of the schism and intrigue between Ghosn and other Nissan execs goes a long way in my mind of explaining Nissan's oddly shizophrenic and lackluster approach to advancing their EVs ever since the launch.
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Re: some comments on Nissan EV Strategy

Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:26 pm

Agreed

Carlos was trying to move the company faster than the laggards in the company. I don't think Nissan fully appreciated the number of people in ther earlier days of the Leaf (2010-2014) which came curious, and left in a Rogue or Pathfinder. Once Leaf lost that mantle of being innovator, so to did they lose audience. We would have never looked at a Nissan without the Leaf. The rest of the company lacked the vision to change or the appetite for risk to make the needed amount of change. GM and Ford have really only woken up to it recently and finding out its much harder then they had hoped. (Though the Bolt is am excellent EV and underrated due to looks)

Sadly, I am not sure I will buy another one without a bit more commitment to existing customers. I do think this is something that Tesla gets right and does reinforce the brand. Its just only something you can afford when you are in high growth mode with strong product pipeline. Thats not Nissan today.

Again, love our Leafs as high value medium range EVs. Just went downtown and back (30 mile round trip on 55mph highways) on 10% battery (68% to 58%). Sure 517 miles would be awesome, but Ia not sure i drive enough to justify more than 200 miles of range.
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jlsoaz
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Re: some comments on Nissan EV Strategy

Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:52 am

Such a welcome discussion of some of the factors that have appeared to have played a role in automaker decisions over the course of the electrification story. I'm hoping at some point they also do some discussion of The Innovator's Dilemma, or perhaps have a guest who could discuss that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nreXNspBHgQ&t=1266s
The Osborne Effect: Why Big Auto Is Lying To You | In Depth
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Re: some comments on Nissan EV Strategy

Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:59 am

DougWantsALeaf wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:26 pm
Once Leaf lost that mantle of being innovator, so to did they lose audience. We would have never looked at a Nissan without the Leaf. The rest of the company lacked the vision to change or the appetite for risk to make the needed amount of change.
This pretty much sums up my feelings as well.
Sadly, Nissan had the edge...and lost it.
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Oilpan4
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Re: some comments on Nissan EV Strategy

Tue Sep 22, 2020 8:48 am

Years ago they had enthusiasm for the leaf now it seems like they tolerate the leaf.
Nissan had their foot in the door with the EV market and GM had the best battery tech, but barely used it. Now both are playing catch up to tesla. Tesla is so far ahead that it appears pointless and now it is uncomfortable to even watch them try.
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frontrangeleaf
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Re: some comments on Nissan EV Strategy

Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:08 am

Hmmm. My take is different. I think they built a car that would only ever be attractive to a very small audience. Leaf gen 1 was never going to be a crowd pleaser, even if it had had much greater range. Its styling was too provocative. Given its functional limitations, all the more so.

We won't know about the latter factor, because Tesla had redefined the market and its expectations by the time Nissan finally got around to giving the gen 1 a bigger battery. They couldn't go really big without offering a completely different driving experience ala Tesla, with a price point to match. Different vehicle and market entirely.

But I also don't think this was lost on the strategists at Nissan in the beginning. They knew they were delivering a vehicle with serious functional constraints. I can't believe that their focus group studies would have told them otherwise. This suggests that the provocative styling was deliberate - Leaf gen 1 was never intended as a mainstream car. I think it might be considered a success if measured against those upfront expectations. The market changed out underneath them.

Which raises an interesting question. Imagine looking forward from the beginning, what were their expectations at the time? Did they think that battery tech would advance faster than it did? Were they testing the waters to gauge market acceptance (odd experiment if I'm right with my conjecture above - what can you learn about market acceptance when delivering a small niche vehicle?) Were they just wanting to mitigate the development costs while pushing battery and battery manufacturing development? Did they even consider marketing a hot EV sports car priced high end?

Innovation arises out of the creative, incremental re-combination of existing and adjacent insights and technologies. It almost never happens how Hollywood describes it. It is fundamentally a non-linear, complex process, one that defies predictability. That is, it is most amenable to experimental discovery - safe-to-fail experiments instead of fail-safe design. In a manufacturing space, particularly one that requires enormous capital expenditures and long lead times, this is a daunting challenge. All the more reason to give Tesla props. What they've accomplished is quite remarkable.

I've shared my experiences talking about EVs with a fairly wide variety of people in the Boulder-Denver area, one that enjoys a relatively strong EV market - hardly anyone would ever consider driving even our car, a reasonably recognizable small car (styling wise) available at a ridiculous price after incentives in our state, with a strong motor, a big battery, plenty of range, well above-average performance and a nice interior. Not to mention a competitive tech package. No one says, "wow that's amazing, I'll have to look into one of those." Tesla has nothing to do with it. No one says, "why not a Tesla?" either.

I have a friend who works at NREL. Her first question was, "How long does the battery last?" Not range - longevity. Nothing but skepticism. And she drives a Nissan. My point here is simply that there are many more barriers to acceptance than we commonly hear about, on this board or on other sites devoted to EVs. There's a whole range of intangibles at work.

Under such circumstances, working out a successful strategy will be difficult indeed. I'm not expecting VW or the others to break through anytime soon, barring some major catastrophe that genuinely impacts vast swaths of the population. All of the West can catch fire, and the middle of the country just shrugs its shoulders. Who knows what it will take.

I don't envy the decision makers at the major manufacturers though. They have hard jobs. A lot of people depend on them for their livelihoods too.

Edit: I like the description of our current Leafs as "high value medium range EVs". It remains to be seen whether there is a large market potential for these. So far, it seems not.
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Re: some comments on Nissan EV Strategy

Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:53 am

I was in the Global Leaf Advisory Board for several years (I passed on joining its successor when it was dissolved again recently, because it had become essentially just a very poorly paid focus group) and from what I saw of Nissan Corporate's attitudes, I believe that they are more mired in the past than most Americans would believe possible. Think GM in the Sixties. Carlos Ghosn dragged them ahead a bit with the Leaf project, but when Leaf sales in the US turned out very weak despite the Great Leasing Initiative of 2013, they just shrugged, felt that their antiquated attitudes had been validated, and turned their attention elsewhere - at least until their financial situation got really bad. Now they may have some hope that the Ariya will help save them, but they aren't going to commit any more resources to EVs than they have to in order to appear to stay competitive, at least in the North American market.
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Re: some comments on Nissan EV Strategy

Tue Sep 22, 2020 1:24 pm

LeftieBiker wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:53 am
Now they may have some hope that the Ariya will help save them, but they aren't going to commit any more resources to EVs than they have to in order to appear to stay competitive, at least in the North American market.
Probably right... what they will do will likely be driven by regulatory reasons (e.g. CA/CARB ZEV emission rules, US CAFE numbers, European CO2 targets, etc.), govt incentives and new markets where there are potential growth opportunities. For those not aware, Leaf US sales are a drop in the bucket for Nissan. Sort by sales at the below. Notice Rogue is their top selling vehicle. "Crossovers" and SUVs are all the hotness now in the US.

https://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2019-us-v ... -by-model/
https://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2020-us-v ... -by-model/ under US Quarterly Vehicle Model Sales Numbers

https://usa.nissannews.com/en-US/releas ... 0-us-sales
https://usa.nissannews.com/en-US/releas ... r-us-sales

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