On the brink of an electric car revolution?

Electric car sales have fallen short of predictions, but the global push to cut carbon emissions and improved techology could see them poised to hit the mainstream, says Renault-Nissan’s head, Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn, the fast-talking head of the Renault-Nissan alliance, is not keen to be drawn on targets for electric car sales. A 2011 prediction of 1.5m Renault-Nissan electric vehicles by 2016 turned out to be wildly optimistic. The group just passed the 250,000 mark.

Ghosn was not alone. President Barack Obama predicted 1m electric cars in the US by 2015: in January the total was 280,000. Virgin boss Richard Branson, adept as ever at grabbing headlines, said this week that “no new road cars will be petrol driven” within 20 years, calling combustion engines “complicated and antiquated”.

Unlike Branson, Ghosn does not want to stick his neck out. But as head of the companies which sell more than half the electric cars in the world, what Ghosn thinks about how fast the market will grow matters.

Transport contributes 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions, so the fundamental driver will be the ambition of the world in tackling climate change, Ghosn told the Guardian in an interview. “When we know exactly where the EU, US, China will be heading in 2030, I can tell you exactly how much electric cars will be needed,” he says, referring to a crunch UN summit in Paris in November.

Read more: The Guardian

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