By on May 5, 2022

Nissan has coyly been suggesting that it might someday furnish electrified performance models ever since it released Nismo-badged examples of the humble Leaf for the Japanese market. This was followed by the 2020 Leaf Nismo RC, which served as an experiment to see what would happen if you added a bunch of electric motors in a bid to make the model genuinely fast on a race track.

With the automaker set to deliver 15 new EVs by 2030, there’s been some speculation about how many will boast sporting aspirations. But it looks as though a few might know that Nissan has confirmed its developing Nismo-branded performance electrics for the global market. 

In terms of battery electric propulsion, the Japanese marque presently sells the aforementioned Leaf and (delayed) Ayria on the North American market. Meanwhile, its Nismo products are limited to geeked-up versions of the already quick 370Z and GT-R. These models showcase the chasm-like divide between Nissan’s high-performance and EV products in terms of design theory. Saying the company has a long way to go before it can bridge that gap would be an understatement.

But the automaker doesn’t seem interested in building electrified versions of its existing sporting models. Based on a recent interview Top Gear conducted with Nissan’s chairman of Europe Guillaume Cartier during the Monaco Formula E race, the plan is to give the Nismo treatment to its upcoming EVs in order to designate them as higher performance.

“Nismo is an asset that we have,” explained Cartier, “and that’s something we want to revitalise [sic]. And will we have some, let’s say, cars with the derivative Nismo? The answer is yes.”

From Top Gear:

Makes sense, really. Most manufacturers are planning to tap into the ‘fast electric’ segment one way or another: VW has its GTX line, Seat has Cupra (yeah, yeah, ‘entirely separate companies’, we know) Ford has Mach-E… why wouldn’t Nissan use its racing arm to add a bit of pedigree?

“The point is, it’s not a gimmick,” insists Cartier. “To use an English expression, it’s not lipstick on a pig. So that requires some investment to make sure that you bring performance.”

So what does ‘performance’ mean in a Nismo-electric context? “Here it’s relatively easy to understand: specific suspension and powertrain. The point on Ariya, it’s a challenge because already we have a big battery with high performance. So we need to go higher than that.”

It sounds like Nissan could simply re-tune EVs for improved output and slap and slap on a few Nismo emblems before calling it a day. But the automaker has signaled it’s pretty serious about running with all-electric vehicles after recently ending all future investments into developing combustion engines to pursue battery tech. Last month, the automaker also took formal control over the e.dams racing team responsible for its Formula E program so it could “drive our destiny,” according to Cartier.

“We learn as we race, and the relentless pace of technological progression that drives the Formula E championship will provide us with many opportunities to inform and develop even better cars for customers,” Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer, said at the time. “The acquisition of the e.dams team not only reconfirms our long-term commitment to Formula E, but also to the exciting, high-performance world of motorsports competition as a whole.”

[Images: Nissan]

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17 Comments on “Nissan Developing Nismo Performance EVs...”


  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I’ll be the guy to say it. To my eye, the current gen Leaf is the best looking entry level EV on the market. The Nismo suit they gave it here looks fantastic from what I can see.

    Maybe this current world of EV’s stylistic nothingness has worn me down, or maybe I need to get my eyes checked, I don’t know. Either way, I said what I said.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      The Hyundai Ioniq 5 looks great from the outside but the interior is whatever.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        I’ll agree with that to a point. Two things though- The Leaf starts $12k lower than the Ioniq, and the styling of the Ioniq appears more of a CUV than a hatchback. There’s something subtly offputting about that car to me, something with the rear 3/4 view. I still can’t figure out exactly what it is though.

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Posky

          The Leaf is always kind of what I thought EVs were supposed to be if the premise was that they’re all here to save the environment. It’s not my favorite car (and I think Nissan needs to step up its battery tech now that it’s not 2012) but I never hated it and understood what it was trying to do by nature of it being relatively inexpensive and quite versatile. High performance and giant luxury electrics make a lot less sense to me. But I also a sick pervert who enjoys the smell of gasoline and thinks hybrids are a pretty good compromise if gas prices never again fall below $4.00 per gallon.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “To my eye, the current gen Leaf is the best looking entry level EV on the market.”

      Considering that the only other car I’d call an “entry” EV is the Bolt, I’d say you’re damning it with faint praise.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        I guess, yeah there’s a 50% chance of that. LOL

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I think you’re right, though – the Leaf’s redesign looks good on it. It has that quirky-style thing going on.

          • 0 avatar
            CoastieLenn

            I think Nissan’s have- for the last 15 odd years, been very attractive cars, save for the 1g Versa and the Cube. They REALLY need to work on their transmissions though. Not that that’s really a concern with an EV.

  • avatar
    ajla

    They should worry more about battery cooling and less about making a definitely super-legitimate performance elctro-CUV.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Good idea. Performance is part of Nissan’s heritage; makes sense that they’d leverage that.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    California, the stage in which the world can see how bad liberal ideas really are, has “issued a sober forecast for the state’s electrical grid, saying it lacks sufficient capacity to keep the lights on this summer and beyond if heatwaves, wildfires or other extreme events take their toll.”

    Yet all we hear about are these garbage EVs that, in reality, do far more damage to the planet than ICE vehicles.

    This EV fad needs to end. These vanity products are just not ready for prime time. And even if they were, we don’t have the infrastructure to support them.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    I Love how these good folks of Rock Ridge are clutching their pearls over our electrical grid all of a sudden

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