The carmaker has had years of scandals and miserable balance sheet figures. With the Ariya as the new flagship, Nissan wants to be back in the profit zone.
The Covid-19 pandemic forces the Japanese Renault partner Nissan to launch a slightly different product for its new Ariya electric car, which is intended to free the company from the crisis.
“Welcome to this significant opportunity for Nissan,” said CEO Makoto Uchida. “The Ariya starts a new chapter in our history, it sets the pace for future vehicles Nissan.” Uchida also presented a new Nissan logo, which will adorn the Ariya first.
The words and logo gesture are chosen correctly when you look at Nissan’s bad situation. Ten years after the first electric car Leaf, which was designed as a mass model, the electric car symbolized the start of a new model offensive with which Nissan wanted to return to the profit zone after years of scandals, crises and miserable balance sheet figures.
Homemade problems such as the overthrow of the father of the Franco-Japanese auto alliance, Carlos Ghosn, and the beginnings of the corona crisis pushed Nissan into the loss zone in the reporting year that ended March 2006. Uchida has been the new boss responsible for rebuilding Nissan since December.
The Ariya embodies Nissan’s ambitions to remain one of the major providers of electric cars. The Japanese sold a total of around 500,000 models from the two Leaf generations. Now Uchida wants to increase sales of electrified vehicles to one million units a year. However, hybrid vehicles also count.
Up to 610 km of battery range
The Ariya is the first car to build on the new platform for medium-sized electric cars that Nissan developed for Allianz. It also hits the streets almost as it was presented as a concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show. Nissan also tries to set an example with the equipment.
From 2021, the car will be available in a total of four variants, with two batteries, for which there will be a two-wheel and a four-wheel drive version. According to the automaker, the range is 430 kilometers (267 miles) with the 65 kWh battery and 610 kilometers (379 miles) with the 90 kWh battery.
The most powerful version, the 2.2-tonne all-wheel-drive Ariya with the large battery, accelerates from naught to 100 kilometers per hour in 5.1 seconds with its 290 kW motors with a maximum speed of 200 km/h (124 miles).
In addition, thanks to high-precision 3D road maps and centimeter-accurate satellite navigation, the “ProPilot 2.0” driver assistant enables the driver to entrust the driver with the car even on Tokyo’s city highway with its 90-degree curves.
For language communication, Nissan relies on Amazon’s assistant Alexa. In future, the customer should even be able to switch on the light in the apartment from the car.
The problem: ambitions have a price. While the Leaf was really designed and priced as a car for the masses of the middle class, the Ariya is attacking much higher with a starting price of five million yen, the equivalent of about $47,000. A similarly sized X-Trail SUV with a hybrid engine and the same ProPilot costs significantly less.
“The price is high,” says the renowned Japanese auto analyst Takaki Nakanishi. “Selling is not going to be easy.”