Makoto Uchida paid a visit to a town this month that still bears the scars of the devastating Tōhoku earthquake a decade ago. The residents of Namie, a few miles from the Fukushima nuclear plant, were evacuated when the earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear meltdown, cloaking the area in radiation. But Namie is also a symbol of rebirth. Nissan, the Japanese car giant run by Uchida since late 2019, has chosen it as a proving ground for what it believes is the future of the industry: a joint-venture factory that recycles depleted batteries from Leaf electric cars to provide back-up power to the grid as well as lighting homes and streets.
This is not just corporate do-gooding. Nissan, like its rivals, is wrestling