Nissan chief wary of hybrids
Evidence of sales slowdown shows gasoline savings may not justify extra cost, he says
NEW YORK --
Yesterday, Ghosn also said Nissan employees have another month to decide whether they want to move from Southern California to the company's new US headquarters, in Nashville. Employees have till May 1. Ghosn said the long-term financial and organizational benefits of the move outweigh the short-term disruption. He said Nissan has received 20,000 applications from people interested in working in Nashville.
''At least admit I was the only guy saying, 'Watch out, the consumer decides, don't be excited about it,' " Ghosn said at the New York Auto Show. ''I have some kind of satisfaction of being a little bit right on this one."
Ford Americas' president, Mark Fields, said Ford decided to expand the incentives because they had proven popular in Washington and San Francisco, where they were first released. Ford doesn't break out its hybrid Escape sales from traditional Escape sales, but Fields said March was the hybrid Escape's best month since it was introduced last fall.
Ghosn said some consumers are finding hybrids don't save enough gas to justify their extra expense. Hybrids run on gasoline or electricity. He said vehicles running on diesel or ethanol might hold more promise.
Still, Nissan is on track to release a hybrid version of the Nissan Altima sedan this year. Ghosn said the product makes sense because of California's air quality regulations. ''I didn't say I didn't believe in it. I said it's too early," he said.
J.D. Power and Associates predicts hybrids will make up 1.5 percent of sales this year and nearly 5 percent by 2013.