Nissan took a big risk when it invested billions to become an early leader in Europe's fast-growing electric vehicle sector. The arrival of its second-generation Leaf this year is just part of the automaker's strategy to maintain its position in the sector. Nissan Europe Chairman Paul Willcox outlined the automaker's multifaceted electric plans during an interview with Automotive News Europe Associate Publisher and Editor Luca Ciferri.
What is Nissan's competitive advantage in the electric vehicle sector?
In addition to having a robust lineup of pure-electric vehicles, we are one of the few, if any, that is talking about the role of an electric vehicle beyond the vehicle itself. We are looking at how to manage the second life of batteries -- the energy storage opportunities -- and we have a business model. We plan to grow that and monetize it, making it a revenue stream for us. Secondly, we also have VTG [vehicle to grid]. We think that VTG provides a much bigger role for electric vehicles than just building them.
What is the biggest advantage of VTG?
It is a competitive advantage today. I'm not sure it will be in the future, maybe others will follow because everyone seems to be following what we do. VTG is bi-directional charging. You can charge your Leaf at home and, when it is full of energy, you have a choice. You can drive the car or you can put the energy back in the grid at a time of peak consumption and get paid for doing this.
Isn't that risky for the car owner?
The trick is managing the consumption for the driver. We know that very few European Leaf customers with a full charge will deplete the battery in a day. It just won't happen because the kilometers they cover are significantly less than the capacity of the battery. In that environment, there can be an opportunity for an energy provider to take energy from the vehicle at peak times. That is the model we are working on.