Industryweek 6683 Venucia E30

Nissan Joint Venture Aims for 20% of China Electric Car Market

May 14, 2014
Last year, China's auto sales surged to 21.98 million vehicles, according to an industry group, but sales of "new energy" vehicles -- which includes fully electric cars and hybrids -- were tiny at around 25,000 over the past two years.

TOKYO - Nissan's joint venture firm in China has said it is aiming to secure a fifth of the fledgling electric vehicle market, which it expects to boom as authorities come to grips with choking air pollution.

Dongfeng Motor Co. has ambitions of claiming a 20% segment share with its local Venucia brand which will be rolled out in September, the company's president said Tuesday.

"We will thrive with Venucia e30 in China," said Jun Seki, who heads the joint venture between Chinese firm Dongfeng and Nissan (IW 1000/31), Japan's second-largest carmaker and maker of the Leaf electric vehicle.

"We need some preparations in the first fiscal year but will eventually target... a 20% segment share."

Seki was upbeat on the future of electric vehicles in China, where he said the government was giving generous corporate and consumer incentives to increase sales of environmentally friendly cars.

"You may think the 20% share goal sounds too high," he said. "But we already have a very good share in the global electric car market.

"The 20% goal is not too aggressive. We could aim even higher."

Environmental concerns are mounting in China, where decades of unfettered growth have created harmful pollution, and choking smog regularly envelops major cities.

The communist government, wary of growing public anger, is trying to grapple with air pollution it estimates costs as much as $300 billion a year through health problems and premature deaths.

Electric vehicles have been seen as a potential solution to the exhaust gases that blight busy cities the world over, with supporters touting their zero-tailpipe emissions.

Nissan has been one of the sector's biggest boosters in the global market.

Demand Disappoints So Far

But despite the Chinese government's efforts to promote ownership of electric vehicles, demand has disappointed.

Last year, China's auto sales surged 13.9% to 21.98 million vehicles, according to an industry group, but sales of "new energy" vehicles -- which includes fully electric cars and hybrids -- were tiny at around 25,000 over the past two years according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Nissan said around 30,000 "green" cars were sold in China in fiscal 2012.

Like other Japanese automakers, Nissan's Chinese venture suffered a dent in sales in late 2012 and into last year, Seki said, after the eruption of a Tokyo-Beijing row over disputed islands sparked a consumer boycott of Japanese brands.

The island dispute forced Dongfeng Motor Company to push back its goal to sell 2 million vehicles - both electric and combustion engine -- by fiscal 2015, Seki said.

"Once we get to sell 2 million units, I am confident that we can gain a 10% market share," he said. "We want to achieve the goal in 2017 or by 2018."

Dongfeng is aiming to sell 1.43 million units in the current fiscal year, he said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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