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.”
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