Nissan COO Will Oversee the Electric Vehicle Business After the Leaf Missed Its Sales Target image

Nissan decided to make its COO the direct supervisor for the automaker’s electric-vehicle business, after the Leaf missed the sales target.

Toshiyuki Shiga will be from now on the one responsible for the development of the battery business and zero emission vehicle strategy, beginning with April 1st. Hideaki Watanabe, the former corporate vice president at the EV division, was transferred o supplier Calsonic Kansei Corp., where he will serve as senior vice president.

Sales on Nissan’s Leaf electric vehicle reached 20,000 units in the US, not even half of the automaker’s target for 2012. According to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, sales were severely affected by the lower-than-anticipated demand for zero-emission vehicles, as he predicted that EVs will account for 10% of the global auto sales by 2020.

“Chief Operating Officer Shiga is taking direct responsibility of zero emission efforts because the business is Nissan’s top priority which requires global and cross-functional efforts,” said Chris Keeffe, a spokesman for the carmaker.

In order to boost sales Nissan improved Leaf’s battery range, cut prices for the model and even introduced an entry-level model in 2012. It seems that all these solutions were in vain, as Leaf didn’t meet the expected popularity.