The Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster will hasten the adoption of electric vehicles, a leading car executive says.
Nissan’s senior vice-president of product planning, Andy Palmer, says the spill highlights the potential pitfalls of oil dependency.
“Any kind of crisis can move the needle, whether it’s price hikes or regrettably, terrorism,” he says.
“Every time you see a degree of instability it tends to help us on EV, no doubt,” he says.
“I think no one thing is going to change consumer behaviour overnight but it draws attention to the difficulties of carbon-based fuel,” he says.
He says the interest in Nissan’s upcoming Leaf electric car has been “astonishing”, with the vehicle essentially sold out until well into the second half of next year.
“We have 23,500 orders in the bank and we haven’t announced the pricing in Europe, so that’s just the US, Japan and some blind orders from Europe,” he says.
And he says that the Australian government, which has shown little interest in EVs to date, is beginning to come around.
Mr Palmer visited Australia earlier this year to speak with the federal and state governments and was encouraged by the reception he received. “We are getting a response from the federal government… we do have a level of interest and I do see some signs that Australia will be one of the next serious countries that we are looking at,” he says.
“From a demographic point of view, Australia’s perfect [for EVs]. Most of the houses have got garages, most of you have got two cars and most of the second car’s range is relatively low mileage – you’ve just written the spec for an EV, frankly,” he says.
He says that while the main advantage to Australia from EVs would be CO2 reduction, they would also play a major role in improving air quality in big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.
“The car doesn’t emit CO2, which means you’re not emitting CO2 in a city, where most people live; moreover you’re not emitting any other noxious gases either. You’re cleaning up the environments where people live,” he says.