Business / Corporate

Nissan won't rush into fuel-cell cars while EVs remain rosy: vice chairman

Kyodo

Nissan Motor Co. Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga said in Singapore that the company will continue to focus on electric vehicles and won’t “rush” into the market for fuel-cell cars.

“We need to promote the electric vehicle first rather than hydrogen,” Shiga said in an interview, adding that Nissan only plans to promote fuel-cell cars “in the long-term future.”

“At the moment we are showing quite good results for the electric vehicle sales . . . we have a quite optimistic view for the future of EV expansion,” he said Friday. “Nissan is still the leader of the electric vehicle (and) wants to keep the lead in the world.”

Shiga said that although he regards both electric and fuel-cell vehicles as important, the market for the latter, which is still in its infancy, is challenging because of the high cost of building hydrogen stations.

“At the moment, especially in the case of Japan, the cost or investment for a hydrogen station is still quite expensive, even though the government is now ready to provide some subsidy,” he said.

In January 2013, Nissan, Daimler AG and Ford Motor Co. teamed up to share research, development and investment costs for fuel-cell EV technology for the launch of their own vehicles.

Whereas other automakers are rushing to launch fuel-cell cars to meet U.S. regulations on zero emission vehicles for export to that market, Nissan is already able to comply with those requirements, Shiga said.

Nissan in 2010 introduced the world’s first mass-production electric car, the Leaf, in Japan and the United States. The company started selling the model worldwide in 2012 and has introduced it in about 40 countries, with some nations offering buyers incentives.

“Without government support, it is quite difficult to launch fuel-cell cars now, not only in Japan but also other countries. The electric vehicle is (currently) more economically feasible for the customers,” Shiga said.

Asked about China’s market, the world’s largest, Shiga said he is particularly optimistic about EVs.

“The Chinese government is now strongly pushing, promoting to increase EV (sales), especially to reduce air pollution in the country. Maybe there are a lot of opportunities for us to expand,” he said. “We are looking for new Chinese customers and to launch new products which are more focused on the younger generation, the post-’80s generation.”

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