Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Car Companies and Governments Align for Oil-Free Future

Carlos Ghosn, Phone Call

�SWhen a government is interested, they call us. We don�"t go to them. They call us,⬝ Carlos Ghosn said. (Photo: Brad Berman. All rights reserved.)

In the early days of the Bush administration, vice-president Dick Cheney met behind closed doors with oil companies to formulate national energy policy. A decade later, we see what happens when the government and oilies get too chummy: dangerous oil drilling and endless oil wars.

The Gulf oil spill is a catastrophe of epic proportions, but if nothing else comes out of it, the disaster could force a decisive break from the government-oil alliance�while forging a new alignment between the state and car companies. That�"s right, the same car companies that stood defiant of government fuel efficiency mandates for generations are now forming alliances to produce cars that use little or no petroleum.

In this dawning age of battery-powered vehicles, the very definition of an automobile company�"s function in the economy and society is shifting. Companies that recognize the change are positioning themselves as government allies in the struggle for oil dependence. �SWe are not only a carmaker. We are a sustainable mobility system provider,⬝ said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan and Renault. He was speaking in Tennessee at the occasion of Nissan breaking ground on a new lithium ion battery factory�financed by a $1.4 billion loan from the Department of Energy.

Car Company or Systems Provider?

Mr. Ghosn proclaimed that Nissan-Renault is not only making cars. The company will also make batteries, help recycle them, make quick charging equipment�and most importantly, provide consulting services to governments. �SWe�"re not only a carmaker here. We�"re the provider of a system. And we are advising governments and cities about what system they should be in place in order to get the interest of the consumer,⬝ Ghosn said.

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