Renault-Nissan Alliance Chairman & CEO Carlos Ghosn’s visit to Korea for the first time in 16 months is attracting a lot of attention. When he visited Korea in July last year, he came up with surprising news that Renault Samsung Motors’ Busan plant would be commissioned to manufacture 80,000 units of Nissan’s new Rogue. Many industry insiders are expecting that his visit at this time is to encourage Renault Samsung’s efforts to dominate the electric vehicle (EV) market ahead of the others.
According to industry sources, the Chairman arrived at Gimhae Airport at night on the last day of October and paid a visit to the Busan plant today to check on the SM3 Z.E. manufacturing facilities. Then, he plans to move to Seoul to participate in the EV launching ceremony and press conference.
It is said that the Chairman timed his visit to coincide with the launching ceremony because the SM3 Z.E. is a key part of the future strategy of the global automaker. The SM3 Z.E. is Renault’s first EV in Asia. The company is considering that Korea will be a yardstick to determine the model’s viability in emerging markets.
These days, GM Korea, Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors, and Renault Samsung are striving hard to take the lion’s share of the market. In addition, BMW is planning to launch its i3 next year. The SM3 Z.E. can be a replacement of the Nissan Leaf, whose sales in Japan decreased 38% between the first halves of 2012 and 2013.
“For the Renault-Nissan Alliance to take the lead in the EV market, it needs a new model,” said an industry expert, adding, “His visit to Korea at this time shows his great expectations for the EV of Renault Samsung.”