LeWeb10 Carlos Ghosn Renault

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman & CEO, Renault S.A. & Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Q&A with Loïc Le Meur

WARNING: Liveblogged..some paraphrases, somethings may be missing. Video below

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman & CEO, Renault S.A. & Nissan Motor Co

The car industry was started by entrepreneurs. There was lots of innovation. Renault, from marketing, knew about brand image and marketing, how car races could drive the brand. opening new branches in cities where there were rallies and get the cars to compete, like we do now in F1.

But now cars have stopped being perceived as symbols of modernity. They are 17th in Japan as a desired product. 43% of 25-34 year olds consider cars have more drawbacks rather than advantages. Now we are not about breakthrough, but about optimisation.

We hate risks, the stakes are so high. The entry ticket, the engineering and the investment, is about 2billion Euro. In Japan, there is Kaizan, the car industry does this very well. We copy each other, we design processes to the second..optimisation leads to improvements, as with Moores law, the engine performance is continously improving. In 4 yrs a car could do 1600km without refueling – we get more efficient. In the new Meganne, there is as much tech as in the first Airbus plane.

We’ve had some breakthoughs, but not as many as in the tech would. But there has been little radical changes in car.

Challenges – environment. We know we have to reduce CO2 emmisions. Cars are accountable for 12% emmisions. The other is oil price and geopolitics of access to energy sources. Cars have 25% of oil consumption. There’s a growing need for mobility in developing coutries…now we have 1billion cars, by 2020 it’ll be 2billion. The basic need of autonomous transportation will not change, this is the base platform for the future. But cars are perceived as a problem – they need to be perceived as a solution. So we should not go for optimisation, but innovation.

We look at the mass produced zero emission cars. Renault and Nissan are bringing out a new range (not just one). City, family, vans etc, Not to make it special but as a normal option. This is a tech breakthrough – the batteries, the process – as key areas are different. With little vibration, we can rethink the architecture. It is a innovation in engineering, it’s not just the engine now, it’s the battery. It’s innovation in how we interact with governments..about geting them out there. It’s a breakthough in how we market.

For customers, it’s a change as well. great acceleration, no noise, no smell. We are starting a new programme, with the Leaf. In US and Japan, in EU later.

We are investing 4billion EU, between Renault and Nissan, with 2000 people. We know there is risk but we are getting more comfortable, as we are resonating with consumers. In US, 250k for Leaf. Next year, the production is booked..people want them.

There is a lot of scepticism, lots of questions. We are at the beginning of this tech, it wil change. The cellphones weighed 1k, took 10 hours to charge, cost thousands of dollars. But scale and competition pushed price down and tech up, this will be the same for the cars. The electric cars will be a platform…the telephone is a platform, as there is a need to communicate. There is another basic need of autonomous transportation, it is not going to go away. Therefore it is a platform. It is an open platform. This is one of the new frontier. the car industry is a 2trillion business…this business is now open and needs to be rethought, with the electric car..this is a world for you here to work on. We will need a lot of outside thinking, to transform electric car.

Innovation is always reconstructing the future…we as an industry are being challenged..now we have to go for breakthrough..the environmental and energy challenge is a great one to reconcile the car as an engineering object AND an object of emotion.

Some comments from Q&A:

  • Renault/Nissan moving from TV to digital – 15% there already
  • you can buy online but few do. They do a lot of web research but want to touch and feel. a car purchase is not just an rational decision, it’s emotional, we need to up the emotion as well. You remember your first car, we need to beef up the emotional side of the car or we are a commodity.
  • Is busy hiring social marketing amd digital people – they can’t find enough people for that
  • a general call for entrepreneurs get involved, with the electric car, to make it a great product

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