Nissan's LEAF Point Man Retires

By · September 28, 2012

In the wake of the Arizona range-loss debacle, Nissan has announced the retirement of one of the key figures in reintroducing EVs to the American market. Mark Perry, Director of Product Planning and Advanced Technology, has been central to the LEAF program from the beginning. Though Nissan spokesman Dave Reuter said yesterday that the retirement has been imminent for several months, the move appears to signify the company’s eagerness to open a new chapter in the car’s existence in the United States.

Prior to working on LEAF and Nissan EVs, Perry was a director of corporate brand management and market intelligence for Nissan and Infiniti in North America. He also led the global development of retail dealership facility designs for the two brands. During 25 years with Nissan, Perry held a variety of other marketing, planning and sales management positions in both national and regional sales offices.

PluginCars.com’s Brad Berman interviewed Perry about the LEAF in November 2008, back when the car was still in the early stages of planning. The LEAF was Mark's baby, and his excitement and devotion to the vehicle were apparent from the beginning. Still, lithium-powered mass-market EVs are a new technology, and the challenge of selling the LEAF’s potential while educating the public about its intricacies and shortcomings has proven difficult. Mark recently referred to the introduction of the LEAF as "the launch that never ends."

Nissan’s troubles with the LEAF extend beyond Arizona. Sales for the car have been slumping for nearly a year, and a class action lawsuit has been filed in California claiming that Nissan oversold the car’s range in promoting the vehicle.

The question now is how much the LEAF's woes will impact the broader EV movement. Will other carmakers be reluctant to release battery-only vehicles in light of Nissan’s problems marketing theirs?

As in the beginning, the best hope for EVs lies in an honest dialogue with the public about what they are, how they work, and what to expect from them. Nissan’s decision to convene a panel of LEAF owners, led by Chelsea Sexton, to enhance communication between the carmaker and the EV community underlines just how crucial early adopters will be to the long-term outlook for the market. Hopefully, Nissan will take the necessary steps to improve its relationship with the community of owners. And with the perception of EVs mended in the near future, Mark Perry's contributions to kick-starting the modern era of electric cars can be put in the positive light they deserve.

Comments

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

There is a God! Best of Luck.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

Best News Yet!

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 2 years ago

Besides knocking other cars, he lied when he said "100 miles of real world driving". Most of these sales types are always fast and loose with the Truth. With You Tube, what you say is not quite as easily forgotten. Unless the engineers lied to him!

· George (not verified) · 2 years ago

Hurray!

· · 2 years ago

On the other hand, a lot of us wouldn't be here without his contribution to the Leaf project.

· · 2 years ago

I feel badly for Mark. I don't actually know whether he was providing bad information to Nissan decision makers or whether they just weren't listening to him but either way, he was apparently ineffective at getting Nissan to do the smart thing.
There are too many bad decisions reflected in the Leaf design. Hopefully, Mark will go somewhere where he can contribute better and Nissan will get someone from whom they will get or take better feedback on what customers need to enable it to better meet the needs of more people.

· Anonymous1 (not verified) · 2 years ago

And thanks to AZs Lemon Law, those Leaf owners who are unhappy can now get their money back too !

· · 2 years ago

I have mixed feelings about all of this. Those who seem to take pleasure in hearing of this news should probably think twice about what they're actually calling for. Maybe Mark Perry's time with Nissan has legitimately come and gone, but is our above assembled anonymous cheering section next wanting the whole Leaf project to come tumbling down? I certainly hope not.

While I'm glad that there now seems to be the beginnings of Nissan and affected hot climate Leaf customers coming together for a resolution that will work for all, I'm also hoping the Arizona Lemon Law isn't going to be a clarion call for the more reactionary elements in Arizona's state government to propose additional legislation to make future EV adoption more difficult here. We've got more than a few idiots in the legislature up in Phoenix right now with such a strong anti-environmental agenda that this could end up just feeding their fire with new laws that will "protect" us from the "evils" of electric cars . . .

http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2010/02/10/tucson-lawmaker-carries-torch-...

http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/melvin-let-az-take-us-...

As for the Leaf itself, let's all remember that there's a lot of things Nissan got right with it. If faced with a collision, I'd prefer to be inside a Leaf than in many other cars I could think of . . .

http://money.cnn.com/2011/07/25/autos/nhtsa_nissan_leaf_five_star/index.htm

http://www.marysvilleglobe.com/news/168180566.html

And, while hot climate battery depletion may be a current bone of contention, it's comforting to know that, in case of a vehicle fire, the battery is safer in a Leaf than in many other EVs and, needless to say, the gasoline tank in just about any ICE car . . .

http://www.autoevolution.com/news/nissan-leaf-battery-pack-survives-mass...

· Tom K (not verified) · 2 years ago

What about us SoCal LEAF owners already seeing 10-15% capacity loss? Lemon?

· JP White (not verified) · 2 years ago

Wonder why they went away from the battery leasing model and the ability to upgrade later.

Such promise but the reality is totally different.

· · 2 years ago

Digging through my archives, I found this:
"The impatient CEO (Carlos Ghosn) recently told Bloomberg, “The engineers will always tell you, ‘Wait a little more,’ and if you keep playing this game, you never launch any product.” - http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/01/nissan-leaf-2/

It would be interesting to know if Perry is falling on the sword or responsible for Ghosn's gamble. The moral to all those EV business and marketing people out there is "You'd best listen to your engineers."

· · 2 years ago

Ghosn. Is. The. Problem.

· · 2 years ago

@smithjim1961,
Ghosn is DEFINITELY NOT the problem.
If it weren't for him, the only credible electric play in town would be Tesla.
Please justify your seagull comment or you lose all credibility.

· · 2 years ago

This issue illustrates the thrill and agony of being an EARLY ADOPTER. Being rather cautious myself, I waited until gen 3 before buying a Prius. I am eagerly looking ahead to the 2nd and 3rd generation versions of the Leaf, Volt, MiEV, Tesla, Fisker etc. The future holds promise as long as we can maintain support and enthusiasm for the concept.

· · 2 years ago

@nubEV,
I know a lot of people who waited for the 2nd or 3rd generation of EV1. It never came.
The trouble with always waiting to be 2nd or 3rd is that you're at the mercy of those with the guts to be 1st.\
You're welcome.

· · 2 years ago

So true !!!! Thanks !!! No guts , no glory, eh ?

· · 2 years ago

Ex-EV1 driver,

Actually, I have mixed feelings about Carlos Ghosn. I'm glad he has the smarts to realize that EVs are a key component of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. My problem with Ghosn stems from my experience as a quality control engineer.

W. Edwards Deming is the father of modern quality control methods. After WWII Deming went to Japan as part of the Marshal Plan to help Japan rebuild it's economy. The life story of Deming is amazing but I will not bore you with details. One of Deming's key principles is that management is ultimately responsible for quality control.

One of the first things Ghosn did when he took over Nissan was to fire 14% of the workforce. That's not done in Japan. One the "secrets" of Japanese quality is treating workers with respect. During hard economic times a Japanese manufacturing company will ask ALL of it's employees to take a temporary pay cut instead of massive layoffs. Ghosn doesn't have the first clue about quality control.

The technology to properly control battery temperature is not something that other manufacturers have a problem designing and manufacturing. There was plenty of discussion on this very website two years ago about Ghosn's conscious choice to ignore the advice of Nissan engineers. It's possible there were a bunch of "yes men" in the chain of command that lied in order to keep their jobs. This happens frequently when the boss is a tyrant.

This whole situation reminds me of a boss I once worked for. He didn't listen to me when I told him about fundamental flaws in product designs. It was very frustrating for me. Why did he hire me if he didn't trust my judgement? I sympathize with Nissan engineers who wanted to do the right thing.

· · 2 years ago

@smithjim1961,
Thanks for the clarification. I suspect you may have nailed the problem. He was given the vision by the Israeli captains of industry but I can see how his tyrannical approach to management as you describe can be seen 2 ways.
If he used a consensus approach, he'd never get the old boys who own the transmission and ICE divisions to support EVS so, for that, I'm glad he takes that approach. As an engineer and manager, however, I agree that that can lead to the kinds of problems we're seeing in the Leaf. Unfortunately, I can also see how it could take a while to fix the problem because that management style doesn't correct problems very efficiently. Perry's sacking is also consistent with that style and that is why it doesn't correct problems quickly. I agree that executive bloodshed tends to lead toward CYA and yes-men who are good a pointing blame but not fixing problems.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 2 years ago

Ghosn's contribution is his single handed huge commitment to EV's. He's probably being forced to reconsider somewhat, but I hope he sticks with it. He's not an angel, but at least he's not quite the "Perfectly Lubricated Weather Vane" that could be attached to at least one (but really both) of our current presidential candidates. Ghosn has backtracked a bit on some of his 'pure' earlier statements, but overall I'd give him a B. If I was one of the "downsized" people, its true, I might have felt differently. However Nissan in general remains a somewhat reputable company.

If you want to look at a truly horrid japanese company, consider Tokyo Electric Power.

They lie anytime their lips are moving. Sick employees are discarded immediately. The truth of what is happening over there is just trickling out, and never through official channels. So much for the Japanese Way.

· · 2 years ago

I certainly hope Ghosn proves me wrong.

· Arizona EV_Pilot (not verified) · 2 years ago

As a AZ leaf owner that is down 30% capacity in under 1 year... I have mixed feelings on this. Best I can come up with is:

Hate the sin, love the siner.

Far-well Mr Perry.

· EVlvr (not verified) · 2 years ago

smithjim1961 is right - Ghosn IS the problem. He made the fatal decision back then, right now his company is shamelessly washing its hands of responsibility for the resultant problems. The buck stops with him.

Apparently many in the EV community still regard him as a rockstar for all the ego driven claims and promises he made. Had he directed Nissan to cut its losses and confront the issue from the get go, I would never be saying this. Instead, he threw his trusting, loyal customers under the bus and deserves the worst for failing them and for whatever negative fallout it brings upon the entire EV world.

· patb (not verified) · 2 years ago

I think people need to realize that the future of EV's is as much a marketing excercise as product design and technology.

How did Apple justify a price premium over MP3 stick players and portable CD and Tape decks?

Marketing.

What's the right solution for an EV? 4 seat? 2 seat? 75 Mile Range? 100? 150? 300?
Whats' the Price point? 25? 45? 65? 100?

Tesla is providing data at 2 points, Ford is about to start collecting data on the Fusion Electric?

Toyota is learning off the Plug in prius.

Maybe this guy fell on his swoed, maybe he made errors that cost him his job? Maybe, he just burned out.?

We need clever marketing people who can find the solution? Is the solution the VW Bug? Is it the MG B?
is it the iPod?

Marketing must work iwth product design. I like they are pushing the Vehicle2Home thing, I wish they ha started sooner. Maybe they need to partner with Solar Cell Companies to get the V2H made as a total solution.

· Brian Keez (not verified) · 2 years ago

I'm sorry to see Perry go. The marketing of the Nissan LEAF was fantastic. There were over 20,000 pre-orders with deposit for a brand new, unproven product that cost over $35,000. The LEAF is the EV standard that all other manufactures of EV's compare their product to and none have outsold the LEAF yet. The fact is that Nissan's manual states that temperatures in excess 120 degrees will damage the battery. Phoenix, AZ surface temperatures get much, much warmer than that (150-170).

To try to say that Ghosn is a poor manager is just silly and one only needs to search his name to see what he has done in the past ten years.

I'm a hard-core LEAF fan because the car has far exceeded my expectations and always gets me home. I would like to see a list of the LEAF's "problems" that have been vaguely mentioned in prior opinions. 27,000 all electric miles and counting.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

The only cathode material suitable for long terms performances of large scale Li-ion battery packs is lithium iron phosphate coated with carbon (LiFePO4+C). Unfortunately, it seems that Nissan didn't understand that yet. Leaf owner's paid the price of Nissan bad technology choice.

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