TOKYO — Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, the onetime electric vehicle pioneer who dove into the technology with overly optimistic expectations a decade ago, says now is finally the time to go all-in on EVs, as he blasts his former company as vision-less in this new era.
Ghosn said newcomers to the industry, including Tesla and entrants from China, have an advantage over legacy players, and he warned that old-guard companies such as Nissan Motor Co. must be faster to stay competitive in the rapidly shifting landscape.
"The speed of the shift is going to determine who's going to be the winner," Ghosn said in an online news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, where the ousted auto veteran spoke last week on the release of his recent book in a Japanese-language edition.
Ghosn spoke from his home in Beirut, where he lives as an international fugitive. He was indicted four times in Japan on allegations of financial misconduct and fled the country concealed in an oversized music equipment case two years ago this month.
Ghosn, who maintains his innocence, said today's electric buzz vindicates his early — perhaps too early — move to popularize EVs by launching the Nissan Leaf hatchback in 2010. Nissan planned to sell hundreds of thousands of EVs over the following years, but demand never materialized.