Renault-Nissan has invested billions to create a five-car electric vehicle lineup for Europe, where the models are getting an unplanned image boost from rising anti-diesel sentiment, which has been made worse by Volkswagen Group's admission last year of wide-scale cheating on tests that regulate tailpipe pollution. Nissan Europe EV boss Gareth Dunsmore says that the automaker sees a huge increase in customer interest for models such as the full-electric Leaf when air quality alerts are issued for major cities in the region. He spoke about this and more with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
Has Volkswagen Group's emissions-cheating scandal made car buyers in Europe more open to electric vehicles?
We know customers think more positively about Nissan because we make electric vehicles, and that's really important, regardless of whether they take the final step and purchase them.
Is the battery still the buyer's biggest concern?
The first thing that customers look for is the durability of the battery. As we now have an eight-year warranty on our new 30 kilowatt-hour battery this is something that gives our customers the right level of trust.
Is the move toward electrified powertrains getting any support from outside the automotive industry?
Yes, more and more private companies focusing on battery technology are starting up. Whenever humans put their minds to something and invest in technology there is an S-curve effect. You get mass adoption because the quality and the cost suddenly get to the level where you hit the tipping point.