Nissan Prepares to Rejoin the Competition With Next Wave of Electric Vehicles

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
nissan prepares to rejoin the competition with next wave of electric vehicles

Consumer demand may be the driving force behind automakers shifting assembly line production toward crossover vehicles, but there is another trend that has nothing to do with modern-day sales. Electric vehicles have a small but loyal consumer base and the majority of carmakers seem poised to ensure the next decade caters directly to them — whether it be through pure BEVs or hybridized powertrains.

However, not every manufacturer has its electrified ducks in a row. Despite hitting its mark with the Leaf EV, Nissan has been resting on its laurels since 2010 and hasn’t made the same sort of technological promises that Volkswagen Group or Ford cannot help but keep repeating… over and over again. Nissan’s chief planning officer Philippe Klein even admitted in January that his company’s EV prospects are dim and something needs to be done.

“Five or six years ago, we were looked at as a kind of adventurous company, moving into an area where nobody was expecting us to move,” Klein told Automotive News. “And now you have a lot of players making big announcements, and we are looked at like laggards.”

Fortunately, Nissan’s new CEO Hiroto Saikawa says the business has started taking steps to ensure it is not left behind in the next decade — starting with the alleviation of range anxiety. Saikawa says automakers, including Nissan, should have something to calm Leaf owners’ nerves before 2020. However, he admitted that may only apply to customers in Japan and Europe, who usually put fewer miles on the odometer.

When we asked Nissan to confirm whether or not the next-generation Leaf would make it to North America, it responded with, “As a matter of policy, we do not discuss future product plans.”

However, we have it on good authority that the Leaf will continue to persist in Canada and the United States. It just might not possess the range required to appease our vehicular sensibilities. But Saikawa says something electric is coming with a range above 300 miles within the next couple of years — and it should be joined by an array of hybrid and all-electric models between 2020 and 2025.

“The real evolution will come when we have a serious plan for the substitution of existing powertrains, say in our major models: the Rogue, Qashqai, X-Trail. A major part of it will be EV. This is the time I’m talking about. Maybe 2025,” Saikawa explained.

“But the period of differentiating ourselves by technology is almost over. Then, [it] will be a competition of how aggressively you can deploy the portfolio across the models. We would like to be on the aggressive side, the leading side.”

[Image: Nissan]

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12 of 37 comments
  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Apr 11, 2017

    Would anyone get excited if Nissan announced a new gasoline 50 mpg commuter car with a 4 gallon tank, a refueling nozzle the diameter of a drinking straw, and a weak heater and A/C unit that cut range by 1/3 if they are actually used in hot or cold weather?

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    • Ugliest1 Ugliest1 on Apr 12, 2017

      @stingray65 Anecdotal stories are good... but like the cat who sat down on a hot stove and will never sit down on a hot or cold stove again, one should only take the appropriate amount of learning from a story. @stingray you mention the use of A/C in Arizona... my story is in 2014 we were stopped ½ way between Flagstaff and Kingman in 110d heat for two hours while an accident up ahead was dealt with. We were totally comfortable in the car with the A/C going for more than 1.5 hours. Once I got out to take a look ahead, and the heat hit me like a fist. The cost of the A/C? 6 miles of range. So I dispute your generalization that A/C kills an EV battery. And that brings the rest of your story into question -- I'm thinking there's less learning necessary from cold Norwegian skiers than you would prefer.

  • FormerFF FormerFF on Apr 11, 2017

    I do believe that given the current state of battery technology and driving conditions in the U. S., that the PHEV is a better choice than an BEV for most drivers. Having driven one for the last three years has made me a believer. Once you do your in-town driving in an EV, it's tough to go back.

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    • Shaker Shaker on Apr 12, 2017

      @highdesertcat "But then the power companies have to get involved and they don’t like being sold back electricity at the same KW-rate they charge consumers. Funny how that works. The consumer always gets screwed in the end." Which is why the government would have to get involved to keep the utility companies AND the consumer from losing out in the transition to much cleaner energy. The consumer wants clean, uninterrupted power, but still needs grid power 15% of the time in summer, up to 80% of the time in winter - the utility can certainly use the solar boost on high-demand summer afternoons, but can't sustain a grid buying back power at market rates. So, do we call God Almighty to arbitrate this situation, or try something sensible? Like an entity trusted (more or less) by both parties without a "dog in the fight" to do what's best to advance our society, spur innovation, and lessen the reliance on fossil fuels, which (even taking out the CO2 argument), damages the environment that we all have to live in... a not-for-profit entity that has authority to enforce the agreements made?

  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......
  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.
  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.
  • Ribbedroof In Oklahoma, no less!
  • Ribbedroof Have one in the shop for minor front collision repairs right now,I've seen more of these in the comments than in the 30 years I've been in collision repair.