Carlos Ghosn Predicts Where the Automotive Industry Is Headed

Bob Ulrich
Posted on January 24, 2017

Ghosn says one of four miles traveled by consumers in cars will be “shared” with another occupant by 2030.
Ghosn says one of four miles traveled by consumers in cars will be “shared” with another occupant by 2030.
When Carlos Ghosn speaks, his vast experience in both the automotive industry and automotive aftermarket give him plenty of credibility.

He is chairman and CEO of Nissan Motor Corp., Groupe Renault and the Renault-Nissan Alliance B.V. He is also, as of December 2016, chairman of Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

If that is not enough, he was chairman and CEO of Michelin North America Inc. from 1990 to 1996.

At the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit recently, Ghosn shared his views on the trends affecting the automotive industry. In his speech on “Autonomous, Electric and Connected: A Talk on Current and Future Mobility,” he identified four significant trends to watch for in the next few years.

1. The tipping point for electric car demand has arrived.

2. Autonomous driving will be determinative of much of the industry’s future.

3. The industry is “moving to a mobile connected space instead of a single, isolated car.”

4. By 2030, one of four miles traveled by consumers in cars will be “shared” with another occupant; right now that number is about 4%.

However, he also addressed what to expect from President Donald Trump’s administration (his speech was given 11 days before the inauguration.)

“The only thing that can be reasonably expected from a new administration (in Washington) is to maintain high consumer confidence. That’s it.”

Carlos Ghosn joined Groupe Michelin in 1978 and was was chairman and CEO of Michelin North America from 1990-1996.
Carlos Ghosn joined Groupe Michelin in 1978 and was was chairman and CEO of Michelin North America from 1990-1996.

Expectations for Trump in the White House seem to be a positive, he said. After a record sales year in 2016 in the United States, “it looks like 2017 will be better than 2016.”

Trump’s promises to cut corporate tax rates and other business-boosting measures are “going to go in the direction of boosting growth," he said.

In a discussion moderated by a Bloomberg L.P. editor, Ghosn acknowledged that Trump has made auto executives nervous with his comments about car plants in Mexico. “But so far, the rules have been NAFTA, and we all adapted to that. After Jan. 20, it won’t be NAFTA, it will be (altered or) something else. Fine, whatever it is, as long as the rules are the same for everyone.”

Even when he was with Michelin, Ghosn wasn’t afraid of fair competition. In a 1995 interview published in Modern Tire Dealer, Ghosn said this about the future of the tire industry.

“I am looking forward to competing with other tire companies in a situation where all of us can concentrate on technology, manufacturing proficiency, sales and marketing strategy and all other aspects directly related to our primary business of producing and selling tires.

“This is an opportunity for each of us to demonstrate our strengths and our expertise in servicing our customers.”

Related Topics: 2017 NAIAS, autonomous vehicles, Carlos Ghosn, electric vehicles, President Donald Trump

Bob Ulrich Editor
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