Over the past few years, Eiji Makino has met with heads of state, governors and mayors around the globe pursuing an unconventional strategy for Nissan's new electric car, the Leaf: lining up support for the model before it was even on the road.
Electric cars need to recharge around town and a growing number of governments, seeking to reduce oil dependence and clean up the environment, have agreed to subsidise that kind of infrastructure.
The Nissan-Renault car alliance put together more than 80 such agreements across five continents, with the first batch of its zero-emission cars reaching customers only this month.
"At first we had no clue which regions to attack," Makino, who was put in charge of Nissan Motor's strategy for electric vehicles in 2008, said at the company's global headquarters in the Japanese port city of Yokohama. "Portugal was the first partnership we signed, and that made sense because they were promoting renewable energy."
Later he reached a pact with China, which has long relied on low-grade coal to make cheap electricity and had not been known for its commitments to green solutions. "It was completely unexpected," Makino said.
Image: A model poses beside the new Nissan Leaf at the Vancouver Auto Show.
Images: AP, AFP, Reuters and Nissan