DETROIT -- The auto industry may be looking for more consolidation and new opportunities in car-sharing. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s response? Not so fast.
Ghosn told an Automotive News World Congress audience Tuesday that he’s skeptical about car-sharing as a business segment for world automakers, despite enthusiasm for the idea among some companies.
“Is it going to be a significant part of this industry?” Ghosn asked, “I have some doubts.”
He acknowledged that the practice is gaining prominence, and noted that General Motors just invested $500 million in the taxi service Lyft.
Still, he said, “you have to be careful not to jump to conclusions. We have contradictory trends coming. There are some things that go against sharing.”
For examples, he said, smartphones defy the sharing trend because they contain a wealth of private data.
Similarly, he said, “the car is going to be connected, and you’re going to have a lot of personal data. You’re going to have emails, videos, phone calls and images, etc. Some people are not going to want to share.”
Ghosn has been one of the industry’s most aggressive automaker CEOs for the past 16 years. He led Nissan out of financial straits in 1999, invested heavily in global zero-emission products, and is now pushing Nissan and Renault -- where he is also CEO -- into autonomous driving technology.
But Ghosn also said he sees no need for industry mergers or acquisitions to develop those advanced new technologies.
“The consolidation of the industry for many people means A buys B, or B absorbs C,” he said.
But that is not the only solution, he said, pointing to the looser alliance of Renault and Nissan, and their budding partnership with Daimler.
“We have already had 14 projects between Renault-Nissan and Daimler,” he reminded the audience. “And we have only a very small cross ownership. It’s very stable and works very well.
“We share a lot of things. We share platforms. We’re sharing a plant in Mexico. We’re doing engines together in Decherd, Tennessee.
“But it’s a very modern interpretation, where you don’t have to choose between scale and freedom or autonomy,” he said. “You can have both. You can have your own brand and benefit from a larger scale. You just have to make sure it works.”