WORLDWIDE sales of electric cars such as the Sunderland-built Nissan Leaf are more than four years behind target, the car giant’s global boss has admitted.
Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of both Nissan and sister company Renault, said sales had failed to live up to predictions because the charging infrastructure required for green vehicles had not developed as quickly as manufacturers had expected.
Manufacturers believe the creation of an adequate charger network is vital to tackling so-called “range anxiety” – the fear that drivers will be left stranded if electric cars run out of juice.
Nissan began building the Leaf at Sunderland this year, and the company’s European battery production operation is also based on Wearside.
The North East leads the way in the installation of a charger network, but much of the world has not kept pace.
Renault and Nissan had previously predicted joint electric car sales of 1.5million by the end of 2016, but Mr Ghosn admitted it could be the turn of the decade before that figure becomes a reality.
“We will not be there,” he said.
“At the speed right now, I’m seeing it more four or five years later.”
Mr Ghosn admitted a lack of adequate charging networks had forced the company to slash it earlier forecasts.
“We have to admit, it is slower than we thought,” he said.
“But it is slower for the reason that we thought infrastructure building would be faster. It is not,” Mr Ghosn said.
“I don’t think the main issue today is the cost of the car. The main issue is infrastructure. It is normal. I would not buy a gasoline car if there were no gasoline stations.”
Nissan’s rivals General Motors, Honda and Mitsubishi have all developed their own electric cars.