Thank you, Peter (Lyons).
And Hello New York! It’s an honor to be part of the opening ceremonies for this world-class auto show, which promises to be another success. We’re thrilled to be revealing today a new compact sedan and a zero-emission motorsports concept.
It has been a very intense year for Nissan. Worldwide, Nissan sold nearly 4.2 million vehicles for our fiscal year 2010 ending in March – attaining a global market share of 5.8 percent.
In the Americas, we are making a significant contribution to Nissan’s performance - with representation in more than 40 countries that delivered a 17 percent increase in vehicle sales last fiscal year. Combined, Nissan in the Americas sold 1.4 million vehicles and improved its regional market share to 7.4 percent.
Here in the United States, Nissan and Infiniti sales were up a combined 17 percent last fiscal year – for a record market share of 8.0 percent. In Mexico we have achieved 23 consecutive months of Nissan sales leadership with 23.2 percent market share in FY10. And in Latin America, we are making double-digit volume gains in key markets such as Chile, Argentina, Columbia and Ecuador. In addition, we will soon be launching the Infiniti brand into important Latin American markets, just on the heels of its introduction to Mexico this year.
As you can see, we have an exciting year ahead of us.
Today, we are announcing significant changes at our US manufacturing facilities.
Production of the Xterra SUV and Frontier pickup are moving to our plant in Canton, Mississippi, from Smyrna, Tennessee. This makes room at Smyrna for the next-generation Rogue, which is moving to Tennessee from Japan.
We are also pleased to announce that an all-new product will be joining the Infiniti luxury lineup. The Infiniti JX will push the boundaries of what a 7-passenger luxury crossover can be. It will have one of the most luxurious interiors in its class while offering exceptional seating flexibility, easy access to the roomy third row and the latest in vehicle technology. The Infiniti JX will be built to the highest of Infiniti quality standards here in America, at our Smyrna factory.
By the end of 2012, the Nissan LEAF electric car will also join Smyrna, while the lithium-ion batteries will be made at an adjacent state-of-the-art facility.
Construction of the battery plant is on track and we anticipate battery production to begin by fall of next year.
All told, these changes will contribute to our production increase in the Americas from 1.1 million units in FY10, to around 1.7 million units over the next few years. This is all part of our plan to increase the current localization rate from 69 percent to 85 percent by 2015. In a similar timeframe, we will reduce by 50 percent the amount of bought-out parts coming from Japan.
While it’s an exciting time for Nissan, it also has been a very trying one. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends and colleagues in Japan in the wake of the earthquake and its tragic aftermath.
Nissan extends a heartfelt “thank you” to so many of you – for offering kind words of support during this very difficult time. While the automotive industry is still feeling the effects of the disaster in Japan, we do have some good news to report. Nissan’s plants are all operational.
We have developed solutions to parts shortages while we continue to help our affected supply partners to get back on track.
Production of important models – including the Rogue and the Nissan LEAF electric car, are resuming. In fact, you can see on this slide the Inchon – the first ship to depart Japan after the earthquake with post-earthquake-built Nissan LEAFs aboard. It left Japan on April 5th with 127 Nissan LEAFs as part of its cargo, and is set to arrive to the Port of Los Angeles on April 27th.
Today is April 20th – exactly one year after another tragic disaster : the explosion that became the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. This environmental catastrophe, which paralyzed the Gulf of Mexico, shined a light on the need for transportation solutions that are not dependent on petroleum.
Also exactly one year ago: Nissan launched the ultimate solution to our petroleum addiction, when we began taking reservations for the Nissan LEAF - the only car available to the mass market that uses no gas whatsoever.
Opening reservations unlocked the floodgates to consumers who would settle for nothing less than an affordable, zero-emission solution. By September, we reached our goal of 20,000 reservations, three months before the first Nissan LEAF was available for purchase.
Today, we are even more convinced that gas-free solutions are not just a marketing project, but critical to securing the long-term viability of our mobility industry.
To date, we have certified 211 Nissan LEAF dealers, which represent 82 percent of the Nissan network in our seven launch states. We have also certified 844 sales & service technicians and have completed more than 3,000 home charger assessments & installations. Globally, we have forged 93 partnerships with governments and utilities.
Also to date, we have delivered more than 500 Nissan LEAFs to US consumers since our December 12th launch.
Our customers are putting their Nissan LEAFs to the test, driving a cumulative 400,000 miles on US roadways … from mountain passes to the interstates.
We even know of one Nissan LEAF driver – who asked to remain nameless – who got a speeding ticket in his Nissan LEAF that could result in him losing his license for a month!
Thanks to CARWINGS, our advanced telematics system which comes standard on every Nissan LEAF, we have learned some things about our first drivers.
Our consumers drive an average trip of seven miles, and typically charge on Level 2, 220-volt power at their homes, with charging times averaging 2 hours and 11 minutes. Current Nissan LEAF owners are a combination of passionate environmentalists and tech-savvy individuals. They are highly educated, have excellent credit, and are in the top 15 percent for household income. And what do these early adopters think of all-electric driving? Let’s hear what they have to say: (VIDEO OF CONSUMER REACTIONS…)
Wow. Imagine not even knowing the price for a gallon of gas. That’s just one defining aspect of what we’re calling “The Value of Zero”. You saw our new ad spot at the beginning of this presentation, and you “may” have seen a glimpse on the billboards outside of the Javits Center. We are proud that this ad campaign has captured the growing global sentiment that the time for zero-emission vehicles is NOW.
It seems particularly fitting that zero emission dominates a week that is culminating Friday in Earth Day. This year in Times Square, Earth Day celebrations include an Electric Vehicle Parade and “Fashion Show.” And I know that many of you are eagerly anticipating friday’s premiere of “Revenge of the Electric Car” at the Tribeca Film Festival. In fact, several of you actually play a role in the documentary!
Nissan’s zero-emission journey has just begun. We have executed a deliberate sales ramp-up with intense attention to get the details right. We also have carefully balanced the needs across Nissan’s core markets of Europe, Japan and the United States. Nissan’s plant in Oppama, Japan, has been working diligently to meet demand while achieving the highest quality targets.
We recognize we have many enthusiastic consumers who are among those 20,000 reservations in the United States. These consumers, as they await delivery of their Nissan LEAF, have been highly supportive. They recognize the importance of “getting it right” rather than “getting it now”. Many have commented that they’ve waited 20 years for an all-electric vehicle, and certainly don’t mind waiting an extra month or two.
But we also recognize delivery timing has been a point of frustration for some of our first consumers, who have shared their perspective in the burgeoning Nissan LEAF community.
Consumers are so excited about their Nissan LEAF that they’re loudly asking “When can I get my own?” A good problem to have, right? Not to us. We are taking consumer feedback very seriously.
We are pleased to report that U.S. deliveries are about to go from the few hundreds … to the many thousands. Currently, the production pipeline is back. All consumers who reside in launch markets and have ordered a Nissan LEAF can expect it in their driveways by this summer.
Several hundred of these vehicles are at the Port of Los Angeles right now, going through an exhaustive quality check. And you remember the ship coming from Japan?
We have spoken with Bob Fullerton from San Diego whose Nissan LEAF will be the first to be delivered from that shipment. John plans to use his Nissan LEAF to drive between his two homes … one of which is completely solar-powered, including his charging. Bob truly understands the “Value of Zero.”
Going forward, volume allocation will be driven by consumer demand, coupled with our market rollout strategy.
We expect order-to-delivery turnaround times to be reduced to the 90-120 days range, from the current wait of 4-7 months. Just as performance of the Nissan LEAF stacks up against a comparable gas-fueled car in our lineup, we expect customer delivery & service to equal or surpass the high standards of the Nissan brand.
This is extremely important to us, especially since we are in the midst of a rolling global launch. By 2012, the Nissan LEAF will be available nationwide, with market availability in the southeastern United States in the coming fall. And with the 2012 model year comes the advent of new options & technologies for the Nissan LEAF.
The cold weather package will be available in all markets and standard in areas where winters can be harsh. The package is designed to maximize range and performance through greater efficiency. Seats and steering wheels will be heated, as it takes far less energy to heat the driver’s contact points, rather than the entire cabin. A battery blanket ensures optimal battery performance in sub-zero weather.
And by the time we start Nissan LEAF production at Smyrna, we will have added a 6.6 kwh onboard charger. This feature will cut charging time on a 220-volt circuit in half, to under 4 hours.
Already, Nissan LEAF offers more charging options than any plug-in competitor – a 110-volt trickle charge ; our 220-volt at-home charging station ; and the 440-volt quick charge, which offers an under-30-minute charging time.
Electric vehicle technology is evolving as quickly as the consumer mindset. We have visibility to many consumers who – just one year ago – may not have been ready to make the commitment to an all-electric vehicle, but today are asking: “When can I get mine?”
In fact, we now have greater than 340,000 “handraisers” – or people who have signed up to keep posted on the Nissan LEAF. And that number has continued to grow since we completed our first phase of reservations last September.
We are pleased to announce that we are re-opening reservations on May 1st in our current launch markets of California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas and Hawaii. Individuals that have already registered on the Nissan LEAF website will be given the first opportunity to reserve a spot in line to purchase a Nissan LEAF. Then we’ll open up reservations to the general public in those launch markets. More markets will follow, with nationwide ordering in 2012.
In the coming year, Nissan will continue to approach zero-emission vehicle in the same holistic way that got us here today.
We are working to strengthen electric-vehicle policies and practices in communities across the Americas. We are seeing commitments being made in places like Florida, Chicago and right here in New York City, as well as throughout the Americas. In fact, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica are rapidly emerging as EV hot spots.
Misconceptions about electric vehicles continue to persist. People still have questions about impact on the environment, the technology and the driving range. Nissan is committed to furthering the education process. We know that the youngest members of our society are often the most effective at creating change in the world. That’s why we’re starting an educational outreach called ‘Choose Zero’ in elementary and middle schools.
This in-class & online educational curriculum, developed in partnership with Kaleidoscope, is being rolled out to 2.5 million students in 7,500 schools, starting this month. It teaches children of the benefits of zero-emission vehicles, and how they can help the environment.
With this, let me thank you for your time & attention today. I’m looking forward to a continued dialogue and welcome your questions.