OEM INTERVIEW NISSAN
It can be lonely at the top. With
more than 400,000 Leaf sales
globally, Nissan stands head
and shoulders above any other
when it comes to selling electric
transportation for the masses.
Only Tesla can truly compete.
But the Japanese marque knows
that leading the way is tough, and
one criticism levelled at the
company has been the pace at
which it has spotted key market
trends and innovated. So far, there
is still just one non-commercial
pure EV in the brand’s line-up,
while a distinct lack of a SUV
body style has seen
customers look towards
new models from the
likes of Kia, Hyundai,
BMW and beyond.
On top of this, rival
hybrid options that
bridge the gap between
pure battery power and
the internal combustion
engine, supposedly easing the
customer towards to a plug-in existence.
“We established the idea of Nissan
Intelligent Mobility, which incorporates
electric mobility and the latest assistance
systems, but I think there is still some
confusion over exactly what Nissan means by
this,” says Makoto Fukuda, Nissan chief
product specialist for EV and EV concepts.
“There is a thought that by simply installing
an electric motor equates to intelligent power,
but we don’t see this as the case. At Nissan, we
strongly believe that the wheels should be
“We strongly believe that the wheels
should be driven by an electric motor,
and if we use a gasoline engine it will
only be used to recharge the batteries”
driven by an electric motor, and if we use
a gasoline engine it will only be used to
recharge the batteries. This is the most
e cient use of a gasoline engine and proves
the most fun to drive. We want to keep the
excitement of driving. It is important that
a Nissan still represents this,” he adds.
Until now, Fukuda’s words could have easily
been met with some scepticism, but sat behind
him during our interview is the marque’s
122 // January 2020 // www.electrichybridvehicletechnology.com
shimmering new Ariya concept, which wowed
crowds at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show thanks
to its bold SUV styling and promise of
dual-motor electric performance.
“We are on the cusp of a huge leap in
performance for Nissan vehicles,” says Fukuda,
as he walks around the imposing concept.
Despite its design-led showcar fl ourishes,
the concept is believed to be very close to
a production version.
“Two electric motors give us a big advantage
in body control and traction to the wheels. Our
1. Nissan’s Ariya concept
showcases the brand’s
ambition to move into the
electric SUV market
2. While still a concept,
it is believed production
versions are imminent