DETROIT, Michigan (AFP) – Nissan may be forced to delay US production of its electric Leaf and is falling short of this year’s goals as a result of the devastating Japanese earthquake, a key executive said Monday.
“After March 11, all the resources of the company were devoted to helping with the recovery” in Japan, said Hideaki Watanabe, Nissan vice president for zero-emission vehicles.
“It put us in a very difficult situation,” Watanabe told a group of reporters over lunch at the Nissan Research and Development Center in suburban Detroit.
“We’re trying to shorten the delay but I wouldn’t want to make any predictions.”
Nissan has delivered 7,550 electric-powered Leafs to customers in Japan, the United States, Hong Kong and Europe so far this year.
Filling order has been slower than expected because Nissan won’t be able to meet its production 2011 production target of 50,000 Leafs.
“In 2012, we hope to be in a more normal situation,” Watanabe said.
The electric vehicles proved to be extremely handy during the fuel shortages which followed the earthquake and tsunami, particularly because most owners recharged their vehicles overnight when more electricity was available.
As a result, Nissan is exploring technology that could turn the Leaf and its lithium-ion battery into an emergency generator, Watanabe said.
The technology would allow the Leaf to discharge electricity as well as drawing it in.
Despite the shortages, Nissan plans to soon begin distributing the Leaf beyond the original seven US states targeted in the initial launch of the vehicle, which included California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas and Tennessee.
Leafs will be in dealers in a half dozen states along the US east coast this fall and in all 50 states by the end of 2012.
About 2,000 Leafs have been delivered to customers in the United States since they went on sale in December and the automaker has the names of 22,000 more potential numbers.
“Even before the earthquake, we decided on a very conservative ramp up. We wanted to double check everything. Quality is our top priority,” Watanbe said. Nissan’s Tennessee electric battery plant was forecast to come online in late 2012 with the capacity to produce 200,000 batteries annually.
Nissan had planned to begin building as many as 150,000 Leafs a year in Tennessee by the end of 2012.
Snapchat curbs Trump for inciting ‘racial violence’ as Facebook looks the other way
Snapchat on Wednesday became the latest social network moving to curb the reach of inflammatory comments by US President Donald Trump, claiming the president has been inciting "racial violence."
The youth-focused social network said it would no longer promote Trump on its Discover platform for recommended content.
"We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover," a statement from Snapchat said.
The move came days after Twitter took an unprecedented stand by hiding a Trump post it said promoted violence, heating up the White House war with Silicon Valley and social media.
Amid pandemic, White House race becomes digital dogfight
The 2020 US presidential race is becoming a digital-first campaign as the coronavirus pandemic cuts candidates off from traditional organizing and in-person events.
On the surface, President Donald Trump has the edge over Democrat Joe Biden because of the incumbent's extensive digital infrastructure and large social media following.
But Biden has been stepping up his digital presence and is getting a boost from a handful of outside organizations seeking to counter Trump's messaging on social platforms.
Both sides agree that digital will play a critical role in the 2020 White House race as social media have taken the place of rallies and door-to-door campaigning.
Zuckerberg backs Facebook Trump policy despite anger, dissent: reports
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has defended his decision not to interfere with posts by US President Donald Trump, US media reported, after the social media giant's hands-off policy sparked outrage and prompted some employees to quit.
Social media platforms have faced calls to moderate the president's comments, most recently because of the unrest gripping America in the wake of an unarmed black man's death during arrest as a white policeman knelt on his neck.
The row began last week when Zuckerberg said Facebook would not remove or flag Trump's posts that appeared to encourage violence against those protesting police racism, even as the social media titan Twitter put warning labels on some of the president's tweets over accuracy issues or the glorification of violence.