* Car industry 2011 sales "much higher" than last year -Ghosn
* Renault-Nissan to announce prudent 2012 sales goal in Europe
* China "about to start" supporting electric car
By Daniel Alvarenga
CASCAIS, Portugal, Oct 21 The chief executive of automakers
Renault and Nissan is confident 2012 will be a second
successive record sales year for the car industry as long as the sovereign debt
crisis does not spiral out of control.
"Unless there is economic 'armageddon' and you see a 'Lehman-style' crisis,
a huge surprise, I can tell you that 2012 will be another record year for the
car industry no matter what Europe does," said Carlos Ghosn, who heads the two
"2011 is already a record year in sales, no matter what happens for the next
two months, it is going to be much higher than 2010," he added.
Still, Ghosn warned the alliance would set cautious sales targets for Europe
"With the latest developments, we are prudent in the announcement we are
going to make for 2012 sales in Europe. The highest level of uncertainty is
For 2011, Renault has said it expects higher sales and revenues than last
year, when it sold 2.6 million vehicles and reported sales of 39 billion euros.
Nissan said earlier this year it wanted to sell 4.6 million vehicles in its
full year to March 2012, an increase of 9.9 percent.
ELECTRIC CAR OPTIMISM
Ghosn said he was confident about the outlook for the alliance's electric
cars and said China would soon announce its official support for the technology.
The two car makers are betting heavily on electric vehicles, jointly
investing 4 billion euros in the technology.
"By the end of last month we had sold 15,000 Nissan Leaf," Ghosn said,
referring to Nissan's small electric car.
"It is already the most sold electric car in history. The (Renault-Nissan)
alliance will have 1.5 million electric cars sold by 2016," he said. Ghosn was
speaking at the launch of the new Renault Fluence electric sedan and Kangoo
electric van -- the first two of four electric models Renault will sell.
"We are selling 1,500 Nissan Leaf a month in the United States and more than
1,000 a month in Japan. The only problem we have had is supply," he added.
Ghosn has repeatedly said he believes electric vehicles could account for 10
percent of new car sales by 2020, a more ambitious target than many other car
Ghosn said that there had been no cancellations in incentives or support
schemes for electric cars so far despite the Europe's debt crisis and austerity
Car makers need governments and infrastructure partners to install charging
points for electric cars if they are to sell in large numbers, as one key
concern for drivers is the limited range of their batteries.
"Yes, there might be some risk in countries which already accepted
supporting the electric car but some forget that there are new countries coming
in," Ghosn said.
"China have not announced their official position yet but they are going to
support the electric car and the Brazilians are starting to think about it,"
"It does not matter if, for example, Portugal stops the incentives, as long
as other countries like the United States continue to support. If countries like
France, Japan and the UK support and then China, that is about to start to
support, that's fine," he added.
Thierry Koskas, the head of Renault's electric vehicle programme, said he
expected sales of Renault's new electric models to take off in 2012.
"In 2011 we are just starting so the sales figures will be feeble. We can't
really have the precise sales figures yet for the next year but in 2012 we will
have the Kangoo production capacity in cruise speed, so, producing 30,000
Kangoos is a possibility."
(Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)