Nissan shakes up Leaf division with new electric-vehicle chief

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

After two years of disappointing sales of its Leaf electric sedan, Nissan replaced the executive overseeing its electric-car program.

Toshiyuki Shiga, the automaker’s chief operating officer will take charge of Nissan’s zero-emission-vehicle planning and strategy as well as production of batteries for such cars, the company said. Hideaki Watanabe, a corporate vice president who headed the division, was shuttled off to a Nissan-affiliated supplier.

Nissan, which has just started making the Leaf at its factory complex in Smyrna, Tenn., has found electric vehicles are a hard sell in the United States. The automaker has sold fewer than 21,000 in the U.S. since introducing the car in late 2010.

Sales of electric cars have been hurt by several factors, including higher sticker prices compared with similarly sized gasoline vehicles, the limited range of the cars, lack of a widespread charging infrastructure, and the expense of installing home charging stations.


For the record, 9:05 a.m. March 12: A previous version of this post said the first Leafs sold in the U.S. in late 2009. The correct date is late 2010.


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