As the World Economic Forum began its second day in Davos, CEO Carlos Ghosn kicked it off with seven interviews with broadcast media with audiences spanning the world. He started with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo live on Squwak Box followed by a taping for her program later in the day. The backdrop of the Swiss Alps was as breathtaking as the minus 12 degree weather in which Ghosn and Bartiromo sat, a white cloud of dialogue between them as Ghosn described what we can expect for the car industry in 2011.
He reiterated that it would be another record year, with an increase in TIV of 3 or 4 million cars, and predicted a continued recovery in the U.S. with more modest growth in Europe and Japan. Rising commodiities prices, particularly oil, and fluctuations of currency rates (particularly the strong yen for Japanese exporters) were some of the challenges mentioned.
CNN"s Richard Quest began his interview with a question on the espionage issue facing Renault. When asked what country was involved, Ghosn replied with a wry smile, "France." Unable to delve into the details of the matter, Quest and Ghosn moved on to discuss Nissan's LEAF and the prospects for EVs in the future of autos. Following, CNN's Poppy Harlow focused primary on the LEAF -- charging infrastructure, business model, the competition in China, etc. -- and ended with a question about innovation, a key theme in U.S. President Obama's recent State of the Union address. "What is the key innovation needed in the auto industry right now," she asked. "Is it a smaller battery?" Ghosn replied that a more efficient battery is certainly one technology that should develop, but what ever innovations are made, to be effective innovations have to be substantial and meaningful to the public and the consumer.