Nissan Ariya: Keeping Up With the Pack
Don’t have a compact EV crossover in the works? Are you even an automaker?
Keeping up with the industry Joneses is a longstanding tradition among automakers, and Nissan, despite its troubles, isn’t throwing in the towel when it comes to cutting-edge competition. After revealing a concept CUV last year that promised gas-free driving and a healthy driving range, Nissan unveiled the production vehicle last night.
It doesn’t differ much from the concept.
Few expected it to, given that show car’s fully baked appearance.
Said to arrive stateside sometime in late 2021, following a mid-year Japanese market introduction, the Ariya wears Nissan’s new design language — an ensemble the brand calls Timeless Japanese Futurism. That ethos carries over into the Ariya’s spartan, heavily digitized cabin.
With a starting price of about $40,000, the Ariya boasts two available battery sizes and two powertrains; front- or all-wheel drive can be had, with a long-range single-motor configuration offering the model’s maximum electric driving range of 300 miles (official EPA figures will have to wait). That’s with an 87 kWh battery. Entry-level models will carry a 63 kWh unit.
Output ranges from 215 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque to 389 hp and 443 lb-ft, giving this two-row CUV plenty of oomph for whatever task its owners throw at it. Technologies borrowed from the existing Nissan lineup includes the e-Pedal setup from the long-running Leaf, allowing drivers to make little use of the brake pedal, and the brand’s new ProPilot 2.0 driver-assist system, which allows for hands-free driving under certain circumstances.
“The Ariya, a key model in Nissan’s plan to roll out 10 new models in 20 months, demonstrates our commitment to meeting customer demand for crossovers with the most advanced electrified, automated and connected technologies,” Nissan Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta said during the model’s Yokohama debut.
“The company expects sales of its EVs and e-POWER electrified models to be more than 1 million units a year by the end of fiscal 2023. The Ariya will play a significant role in attaining that goal.”
While Nissan aims to impress with style, range, power, and comfort (the brand talked up the Ariya’s lounge-type cabin and flat floor, as well as Zero Gravity seats), it stands to face stiff competition upon arrival. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E goes a different route, aping a famous performance car, while the premium German Trifecta will have a trio of upscale compact EV CUVs of their own. On the lower end of the totem, Volkswagen’s MEB-based ID.4 will be out and about.
Eco-conscious consumers with little need for excess space can already shop the Hyundai Kona EV, with a Chevrolet Bolt-based CUV on the way to challenge it. Both the Kona and Bolt offer a healthy range for a sub-$40k price.
Nissan will have to prove its worth and fight for every sale.
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