EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists

Nissan's Electric Vehicle Strategy in 2011


  1. Nissan's Electric Vehicle Strategy in 2011: Leading the Way toward Zero-Emission (HBS course materials)
  2. [Additional readings are listed below]

Assignment of Final Written Case Analysis

Collaboration policy on second paper:

Please refer to the Guidelines and Grading for Written Case Analyses page of the web site. The written assignment should be prepared following the guidelines given in that document. You should attempt to present important background case information, and use the tools discussed in class and in the readings as a basis for your analysis. Make sure that your paper addresses the written assignment. The study questions should be addressed as part of the written assignment. The case will be due at 9AM, before the beginning of class on the due date. Papers submitted after this date and time will not be accepted (including but not limited to later in the same day).

Case Summary

This case details the strategic decisions that went into Nissan's development of the LEAF, the first mass- produced all-electric car. Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, was making a $5 billion bet that electric cars would be the wave of the future. The Alliance was building capacity for 500,000 zero-emission vehicles in Japan, the United States and Europe. The case covers the inception and launch of the LEAF; Nissan's marketing strategy for the car; the building of charging stations; and Nissan's electric car strategy in the context of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. It also discusses the challenges caused by the high cost of electric vehicle batteries, as well as the advantages of Nissan's joint venture with Japanese battery maker NEC. To handle battery reuse and recycling, Nissan created a separate company called 4R Energy Corporation. The case also provides an overview of the electric car industry and the different economic, psychological and political forces that could either advance or impede the success of the electric car. It discusses Nissan's competitors, including: General Motors, which came out with its plug-in hybrid vehicle the Volt at the same time the LEAF was launched; Tesla; China-based BYD; and the upcoming electric cars promised by Ford, Volkswagen and Toyota.

Written Assignment

You have been hired as a consultant by Nissan's CEO, Carlos Ghosn, to analyze the LEAF product program. He wants your candid written assessment of the strategy, execution, and go to market plans currently in place, along with results to date. Then he wants you to make recommendations that he can review with the Nissan board to achieve his goal of 20% EV market share by 2020. Note: You are free to make alternative recommendations as long as your recommendation is supported by case facts, and as long as you remain mindful that management wants to achieve the objectives named above.

The CEO has asked that as part of your report, you provide him with the situation analysis; risks and opportunities; market assessment; competition; market size; timing; and team. He also wants an analysis of the Leaf program's impact on the profitability of Nissan and Renault. Support your recommendation with an analysis of case facts and answers to the questions below.

NOTE: Only the facts presented in the case and linked to from this page should be used in your recommendation. This assures consistency of information and consistency in grading.

Discussion Questions

Answers to the questions below should be incorporated into your writeup.

  1. How strategic is LEAF to Nissan's future? Can Nissan afford a LEAF failure?
  2. Discuss alignment of Nissan LEAF's current marketing strategy, and its fit with future market objectives.
  3. What is your recommendation for AESC, the battery venture with NEC, in terms of R&D, production, and distribution?
  4. Given your proposed strategy, what breakeven volume is required for this car? What market share does this represent, and by when?
  5. Analyze the use case of today's target LEAF customer. How does this impact your marketing strategy? In your analysis, consider the following:
    1. Figure 3 and Figure 4 from Moawad et al., 2009
  6. The CEO has also asked you to include, as one of your exhibits, a five-slide summary that he can use to present your findings at the next board meeting. Note: These slides should be as simple as possible. All exhibits in total count for 4/20 in the grading criteria.


In addition to the Nissan case, all previous readings and cases from the course, and the two links from Question 5, above, students may also incorporate material from the following webpages into their written assignments:

SCPD Students

Submit the written assignment as described above. There is no other writeup due for this day of class.