Nissan Europe has named Jean-Pierre Diernaz as its first director of electric vehicles for the region, where sales of the automaker's Leaf EV have not met expectations. He moves over from Nissan's luxury subsidiary, Infiniti, where he was director of marketing and communications.
As part of the newly created position, Diernaz will be responsible for boosting sales of the new European version of the Leaf, which Nissan began making at its factory in Sunderland, England, in March.
Diernaz, 44, will also be tasked with spearheading efforts to promote the Leaf as a viable mobility alternative, especially for car-sharing programs in large European cities.
Diernaz began his automotive career at Ford France in 1994. He held a number of executive positions in the automaker's marketing department until joining Nissan Europe in June 2005 as head of European advertising and media.
He was promoted to general manager of marketing communication in January 2007 and was responsible for increasing brand awareness and marketing initiatives in Europe.
He was also credited with contributing to the successful advertising campaign for Nissan's Qashqai crossover, which is now the automaker's top-selling model in Europe.
In May 2010, Diernaz was appointed director of marketing and communications for Infiniti in Europe and was also made responsible for marketing in the Middle East and Russia.
Infiniti has not announced a replacement for Diernaz yet.
In Europe, Nissan has lowered the starting price of the Leaf and increased the car's range to 199km (124 miles) from 175km. The aim is to make the car more competitive against similar-sized gasoline- and diesel-powered cars.
Last year Nissan sold 5,210 Leafs in Europe according to market researchers JATO Dynamics, well short of the 9,000 predicted.