IWAKI, Japan -- Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn is welcoming the quarter million-plus preorders booked by Tesla Motors for its new Model 3 as finally some “good competition.”
Ghosn, who is positioning electric cars as a pillar of Nissan’s corporate strategy, said the explosive enthusiasm for Tesla’s new entry vehicle would spur demand for all electric cars.
“The fact that so many people are willing to pay a down payment to get this car which becomes available at the end of 2017 is a good sign,” Ghosn said today during a visit to an engine plant here. “Finally, good competition for EVs is picking up.”
Since the Tesla Model 3 was unveiled last week, more than 276,000 people have made $1,000 refundable down payments to order the car, according to reports. And that is with Tesla aiming to bring the first cars to market more than a year from now.
The order tally is more than double the 107,000 cumulative sales for all Tesla Model S and X nameplates from 2012 to 2015. Tesla aims to deliver between 80,000 and 90,000 this year.
Together with French partner Renault SA, Nissan is the world’s EV sales leader. By the end of 2015, the Renault-Nissan Alliance notched cumulative sales of 302,000 electric vehicles worldwide.
To date, Nissan alone has sold 223,000 EVs, cumulatively.
The Leaf has accounted for 211,000 unit sales since its 2010 launch, making it the best-selling electric nameplate. Last year, Nissan sold 43,700 Leafs worldwide.
Nissan’s lead may not last for long if Tesla’s tall orders materialize as sales. But that hardly seems to bother Ghosn.
He said new offerings from rivals such as Tesla will spur customer appreciation for electric vehicles and push Nissan to develop better cars of its own. Indeed, the Japanese carmaker is working to boost the range of its next-generation Leaf, cut EV costs and expand the recharging infrastructure.
“We welcome competition because it can expand the market,” Ghosn said. “It’s going to stimulate demand.”