Back in 2008, the CEO Carlos Ghosn announced that Nissan’s R&D programme would focus on electric vehicles, at a time when almost all global automakers were explaining why electric wouldn’t work (infrastructure, range, battery cost etc.) Its competitors were focused on meeting emissions requirements through refining the combustion engine, seeing no need to shift to “high risk” zero emissions vehicles.
But Nissan was seeing the other trends that were more important than emissions requirements. Looking at population growth, rising incomes in developing countries and oil supply it concluded that fuel costs would soon rise to a point where electric vehicles had a significant running cost advantage, and the obstacles would be overcome. Wind the clock forward 3 years, and the current stampede by the other manufactures to electric technology implies that Nissan will turn out to be right.
This consciousness of big Sustainability issues is transforming Nissan’s business model – it is partnering with governments, utilities and telecom companies, investing in batteries and fast-charging units. The first time, it tells us, that it has manufactured anything that doesn’t have wheels. And to Nissan, this is a lower risk strategy than refining the combustion engine in an era of rising fuel prices.
Understanding resource scarcity is just the starting point – the harder part is to build a strategy that takes on the right level of risk while building exposure to the new paradigm. Our November Green Monday (creating green change management programmes) and our Summit event, Green Strategy focus on the solutions, events that will be all the more powerful if you are confident in your views on resource scarcity.
As the Chinese proverb goes, “may you live in interesting times”....
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