Last week, Nissan provided the brightest glimpse of its future product line and EV plans in years, as well as a very early look at what a successor to the Nissan Leaf might look like towards the middle of the decade.
The summary, titled Ambition 2030, marked a reboot for Nissan, with a plan to introduce 23 electrified models for Nissan and Infiniti around the world, 15 of which will be fully electric. The investment of around $ 17.6 billion will fund the development of solid state batteries, including a pilot plant by 2024 and production plans for 2028.
Nissan sold state plans
Among several concepts presented as part of last week’s presentation, the Chill-Out concept is one that could maintain the Leaf’s market position and values, although perhaps a little more influenced by the crossover, as the market goes.
The automaker has suggested that the Chill-Out Concept, a hatchback with crossover elements and a higher profile, be built on the same CMF-EV platform as the future Ariya and include the e- all-wheel drive system. Ariya’s 4orce, which enables handling and handling improvements through nuanced engine controls.
For the timing of a next-gen Leaf – or successor to Leaf – we might consider last year’s commitment to bring a next-gen AESC battery factory to the UK, with cells to use. for a “new generation electric crossover”, after the current The sheet that is built there ends, around 2024.
Concept Nissan Chill-Out
In his presentation last week, COO Ashwani Gupta pointed out that the automaker wants to make its electric vehicles a higher value, which means both more exciting and more accessible. “We are working at several levels to make electric vehicles more competitive, including advancements in batteries and manufacturing efficiency,” he said.
Part of that will be accomplished through a new push to integrate core powertrain components, leading to a 30% cost reduction by 2026, the executive said. It will also undertake a new localized approach to manufacturing, with battery production in close proximity to vehicle production.
The information is welcome, as for several years Nissan’s once-strong EV plans had virtually stalled. Company officials also pushed back arrival dates later and became increasingly ambiguous about what had been a much-anticipated next wave of powertrain technology to sweep the lineup, its serial hybrid system, which will be called e-Power for Nissan and also due for the Infiniti range. Recently, Infiniti confirmed that the hybrid plans have been canceled.
What the Chill-Out suggests could very well be two vehicles – one with a lower ride height and acting as a true successor to the Leaf, the other making more use of crossover sensibilities but sacrificing some range and efficiency. .
In support of this idea, we turn to the remarks of Nissan’s senior vice president for global design, Alfonso Albaisa, who, in a January interview with Green Car Reports called the Leaf an icon and hinted that while Nissan may not be working on a direct replacement for the Leaf, Nissan understands the value of the nameplate and won’t throw it away.
While the gap between the launch of the original Leaf and the soon to be Ariya is more than 10 years, “we can only imagine in five years because it will accelerate,” said Albaisa.
“It really changed the world,” he said. “Everyone now takes it for granted… It’s a name that means a lot to our family and has significant cultural value because it has changed us. “
The Ariya was never designed to replace the Leaf. Earlier this year, Nissan announced a massive price drop of thousands of dollars on the 2022 sheet, presumably with a view to being sold alongside the Ariya. And Nissan has confirmed that the two will be positioned side by side, potentially for years to come.
Aditya Jairaj, U.S. director of electric vehicle marketing and sales strategy at Nissan, recently said Green Car Reports that Nissan’s knowledge of its EV customers and how they use them gives it an edge as more future EVs arrive.
“You have 5 billion kilometers traveled by consumers on the road. Half a million cars sold in the world, 160,000 cars sold in the United States; we understand certain views, interests and weaknesses of customers, all of that, ”Jairaj said. “So we learned from the Leaf, and we’re going to use it, continue to use it for the Leaf and other electric vehicles. “
In April, Nissan announced its “intention” to manufacture battery-electric vehicles over 40% of its sales in the United States by 2030, with additional sales of other electrified vehicles such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids. . He also said that “every new Nissan vehicle offering in key markets will be electrified” by the early 2030s.
Bottom line: Nissan can’t do this with Ariya alone. Given this information, there will most likely be a successor to Leaf, as well as several other EVs by then, even for the United States. Maybe even that versatile little pickup and urban utility vehicle. The exact form the replacement of the Leaf itself will take might not be fully fleshed out yet, even in Yokohama.
Should a Leaf successor be a no-frills efficiency leader, tech showcase, or crossover? Let us know – and maybe Nissan – in your comments below.