Nissan’s popular electric car will transform into an electrified SUV based on the CMF-EV platform.
Nissan has confirmed the Leaf hatchback will morph into an SUV, replacing the low-riding five-door for a crossover-style SUV.
The new electric crossover model to be built at Nissan’s Sunderland factory will be the replacement for the Leaf, the firm’s European boss Guillaume Cartier has confirmed.
Plans to build a new crossover in Sunderland as part of a huge £1 billion (AUD$1.85bn) investment in plant to secure its future were announced back in July. That model was expected to be the Leaf’s replacement, something today confirmed by Cartier.
The Leaf replacement will therefore switch from a hatchback to a crossover bodystyle – and be based on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s CMF-EV platform – in around 2025.
By then, Nissan’s core future model line-up will include five models, all of them electrified crossovers. The five models in Nissan’s future include the Juke, Qashqai, Ariya and X-Trail, plus the Leaf replacement.
The Japanese car maker will therefore not solely develop anymore more conventional models in Europe, such as saloons, hatchbacks and estates. It will however look to its Alliance partners Mitsubishi and Renault in sourcing underpinnings for other segments, chiefly a small car to replace the Micra.
“We will look to the Alliance for a full line-up and powertrains,” said Cartier. “One topic that is still open is the entry [the Micra-sized replacement]. Key points is how we offer something from the Alliance with the Nissan brand.” He added that making it profitability was the main issue, and that the car “absolutely” would be an EV.
The focus on electrification means that Nissan will not invest in internal combustion engine technology to make it EU7 emissions compliant.
“Strategically, we bet on electrification,” said Cartier. “If we invest in EU7, the ballpark costs is about half the profit margin per car, around €2000 ($3130) you would have to pass onto the customer. So we bet on EV, knowing it will decrease in cost.”
Nissan expects 80 per cent of its sales to be full EVs by 2030 and by 2025 will have electrified its entire range with either full EVs or its E-power hybrid option.
Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida confirmed that the company will not be investing in hydrogen technology, instead choosing to focus on battery-electric vehicles. “Our competitors have many solutions for technology,” he said. “For us, we decided EVs. We used to have hydrogen technology at Nissan, and maybe in a different world, we still would. But so far, this [EVs] is our asset, and what we want to be on.”
Uchida also responded to suggestions that Nissan has been slow to capitalise on the impact it had in the world of EVs with the launch of the Leaf a decade ago by saying that he will be revealing plans for Nissan’s next era of electric cars and electrification later in the autumn.
On the shortage of computer chips impacting production of cars, Uchida said that “step by step, it’s getting better” but that the crisis is far from over and it will rumble on for some time. The crisis has shown Nissan that it must “adapt to new ways of working with suppliers [and] make partnerships stronger”.