The CEO of Nissan Motor Co. Carlos Ghosn is a formidable leader, his performance at CES at a round table discussion with journalists certainly proved that. The Brazilian born CEO wears several hats, he also serves on the board of Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors Corp, and he’s the CEO of the Renault Group and Chairman of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. In short the he’s come a long way from being a plant operator for Michelin in 1981.
The open forum discussion produced some interesting comments ranging from politics to the future of the autonomous car. When asked about a potential closed border policy with Mexico under the Trump administration, Mr Ghosn responded that there was “more nervousness than real things”. He went on to add that all we’ve heard from Mr Trump is “America first and jobs for Americans – that’s fine with us”.
Given the importance of globalisation he also added that while there’s no doubt Nissan Co. is strong it is also at full capacity in terms of production in the US.
On the hot topic here at CES, autonomous cars, he certainly provided some interesting insights. When probed about the grey area between who is responsible when it comes to man v machine and potential accidents he said “When the driver is in the car he is always responsible, the problem will be when there is no driver”.
While even he concedes full self-driving mass produced cars are years away, he did point out the car is one of the most regulated products on Earth. From crash testing to emission controls, whatever happens in the future is bound to be heavily scrutinised.
On car connectivity he remarked that while it’s important and evolving in bigger and better ways, it’s still not a do or die matter. There are still design, comfort and drivability to take into account.
What most impressed me was Mr Ghosn’ clear passion for driving. He knows that car ownership is not just a rational thing it’s also an emotional one. That led to the slightly obscure analogy that purchasing a car is “midway between buying a dog and a fridge”.
Finally on the love of driving he added “The people who love driving will love autonomous cars, being stuck in traffic is boring”, he added, “I’m not worried about the pleasure of driving, it will always be there”.
Hats off to you Carlos Ghosn.