Nissan Developing Nismo Performance EVs
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.”
A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.
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