So Nissan is taking a multisolution approach to electrification?
What are Nissan's assets and strengths? Definitely it is in EVs. We have been doing that, selling the Leaf for the past 11 years. We have been working on EV technology for more than 30 years. So that is our asset and that is our strength. That is our innovation.
But there is another electrified [approach], called e-Power, created from the EV technology that we have been evolving for the past decade. So this is our strength when it comes to electrification — these two choices.
What is the bigger risk these days — over-investing in full-electrics or underinvesting?
Our investment of ¥2 trillion ($17.73 billion) — is that overinvesting? We don't know. But this is what we think is right as far as our direction is concerned.
But we are talking about the next five years. We will carefully monitor how the market evolves. Then we will adjust to the right level. At this point, as to whether it's an overinvestment or underinvestment, I don't have that answer.
In Japan, if you are asking why some makers are going to EVs and others to hybrids, we have a lot of technology to cope with carbon neutrality. It's not just about the automotive sector, but about, how are we going to deal with energy? How are we going to deal with suppliers, the whole ecosystem and life cycle assessment? How can the industry support doing it while making steady growth and keeping our employees? So this is not a very easy discussion.
Is Nissan's goal of electrifying half of its global sales by 2030 aggressive enough?
At this point in time, yes. From time to time, we need to adjust based on the pace of the industry. Two years ago, who was talking about the electrification in U.S.? And look at how it's changed in these two years. So now we are talking about the next 10 years. Our plan today is 50 percent. But we need to look at the pace of development and the pace of customer acceptance.
Why did Nissan unveil this long-range vision?
In Nissan Ambition 2030, I really wanted to show internally, to our employees, that what we have been doing is the right thing and how the company would like to direct itself. If we don't have a united feeling inside the company, how we can convince the external side? We wanted to be confident that we were ahead on Nissan Next. Then we wanted to show what it means for Nissan to further contribute to society and show where we are going. That will be our whole direction, like a compass, not only internally but also for the external world.
How will Nissan achieve the 40 percent EV penetration in the U.S. by 2030?
We are not just setting a number of 40 percent. We have a plan behind it. But it's not the time to say that in detail. You will hear that when we talk about post-"Nissan Next."
So Nissan will achieve 40 percent full-electric vehicle sales in the U.S. by then?
Yes, that's what we say. And we have a plan behind that. Under the current circumstances, and how we see the market evolving, we are saying 40 percent. But if that situation or environment changes, that would make a change in the numbers.
How will Nissan invest that ¥2 trillion in the next five years?
Internally we have a plan. But it's not the moment today to give the details. We have already invested ¥1 trillion ($8.87 billion). And we are further investing ¥2 trillion to support what we said in Ambition 2030. We're not just giving a number for investment; we have content behind it. And there are already plans built in for the next 10 years.
Can you talk about Nissan's solid-state battery strategy?
We are planning ¥140 billion ($1.24 billion) of investment in all-solid-state batteries. We have been working on battery technology for the past 30 years. We have a lot of know-how. We believe all-solid-state batteries will be a game-changer in allowing a greater variety of vehicles to be EVs at the right level. If we want to make large-sized vehicles electric, with the right level of autonomous technology and drivability, one solution is all-solid-state batteries.
But we're not going to abandon lithium ion batteries. We will evolve them in cost and charging time. So we will make further innovations in lithium ion batteries as we introduce all-solid-state.
What kind of autonomous driving will Nissan achieve by 2030?
At Nissan, we want to achieve zero fatalities. For that, we wanted to do driving assist, which is called ProPilot. And we will enhance that further with lidar, the development of which we would like to finish in the mid-2020s. And we will start to apply that over most of the lineup towards 2030.
On the other side, we are talking about Level 3, Level 4. We are ready to begin our trials in the U.K., the U.S. and also in China and Japan. But that requires regulations in each country. The timing in each country is different. So we are trying to be ready from the technology point of view and from the service point of view, to meet each country's regulations.
How will the alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi develop over the next nine years?
We will continue to leverage our synergies. Economies of scale have already taken place by using common specifications, such as EV batteries where we have the same specifications. That delivers scale and allows us to optimize our investment. And we have a common EV platform, the one we use for the Ariya.
All these alliance activities support products that also go to the U.S. market. We are also working to see what we can do together in this new era of carbon neutrality.
What is Nissan's estimate for when the global semiconductor shortage will end?
Nobody has a crystal ball, but it's getting better day by day. Still, we need to anticipate that this may take a bit more time. And we need to further enhance our communication with our partners, which means not only the supply side, but also the sell side to prepare for various scenarios.
How does Nissan's electrification push support the brand's recovery in the U.S.?
I'm very happy with how solid our U.S. business has become in terms of quality of sales. We have restored the value of our vehicles in the U.S. to the right level. And we did not push sales, which made our reputation and trust among U.S. dealers much better. Our brand image has improved, and the new products are promising.
Now we are entering the next phase of how we can extend our brand power to reach customers. And one of the ways is through Nissan's readiness for carbon neutrality. Our message about fully electrified vehicles toward 2030 and how we demonstrate our brand image toward that goal is going to be most important.
What is the outlook for Nissan's U.S. growth?
It hit the bottom last year. But by September 2020, we were already picking up in the U.S., and quarter by quarter, we are improving.
We are going at a very good pace. Our plan to regain trust in the U.S. market is getting to the right level, and we are keeping transaction prices at the right level. It's not really about increasing the transaction price, but rather the customers' acceptance of the value that we're giving in our new vehicles. We would like to further the customer's recognition of our brand power in terms of the electrification that's coming.