Rayna Handelman

Global Electric Vehicle Coordinator, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Tokyo
Photograph courtesy of Nissan

DB: You grew up in Detroit, but where are you right now?

RH: New Zealand.

DB: You were just settling into Nashville when, in 2007, you got reassigned to Japan. Why?

RH: It was originally a short-term assignment to work on the electric-vehicle program. But once it was presented, it became a long-term project. We’re taking a holistic look at how [electrification] will change the way we drive.

DB: One of your assignments is to meet with senior government leaders from around the world — even some prime ministers — to set up joint public/private EV programs. At Cass Tech, did you ever expect to be doing that?

RH: I never would’ve anticipated that, but to make this happen, you couldn’t do it any other way; a car company can’t do it all alone. You need to make sure all the elements are in place when the cars come to market. It’s easy to just build the car, but you have to make sure the infrastructure is in place.

DB: You spent a number of years working as an independent consultant, then joined Nissan, in Nashville, in 2006. Why did you make that move?

RH: I saw an opportunity to get into the tech sector, which I thought was going to be big. This gave me a chance to put together the technology road map for all the Nissan vehicles. I got to look at what was happening in a variety of industries and [to] try to figure out how it would change the way we drive — and what we do when we’re driving. You look at things like iPods and cell phones, and it’s going to have a big effect on us going forward.

DB: What’s on the horizon for you?

RH: Right now, I’m totally focused on this program, making sure it’s a success going forward. Beyond that, I’m simply too busy to think about that question.

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