Q&A: Philippe Klein

Nissan's global product planning officer says it's becoming easier for customers to own an electric car as the range increases and they become more mainstream

What are your predictions for the future of diesel in Europe?

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding diesel recently for obvious reasons. For me, I think that, regardless of what has happened in the last few months, diesel technology will become more costly than it is today. 

I’m not saying that diesel technology will disappear from our landscape at all. I think diesel is still a good technology in terms of energy efficiency, so it will likely continue to be popular for cars for long-haul usage. But it is inevitable that the cost of it will increase, leading to a potential decrease in diesel powertrains, especially in small cars. 

For these vehicles, we predict more electric in the landscape. The technology is quickly evolving and it’s becoming easier for customers to own an electric car as range increases and they become more mainstream due to continued pressure from government, for example. In the not so distant future, I predict a significant increase in the number of EVs and a fall in diesel powertrains, but we are not envisioning diesel disappearing altogether. 

What impact has the recent controversy surrounding diesel had on Nissan’s powertrain mix, and what steps have you taken with your vehicles? 

Due to our alliance with Renault, in a way we are mastering all of the technologies, right from conventional gasoline and diesel to electric vehicles, with the hybrid and plug-in in between. The focus is not shifting from one to the other. It’s about figuring out how to manage the powertrain mix depending on the market. 

Our philosophy is that the technology that will prevail will give a good proposition to the customer and at a good price. We are prepared for a shift in our vehicle mix but we’re not threatened by this at all.

tags: June 2016 Nissan Hybrids & EVs