While Nissan has without a doubt been one of the top firms in the plug-in electric vehicle sector over the last decade, the reality is also that the company has seemingly spent a fair amount of that time stalling. As an example, when the Nissan Leaf first hit the market, it was in some ways revolutionary, a very solid offering. It won several notable awards. It was fresh, innovative, and interesting. But the company spent the next few years refusing to update the Leaf much at all and didn’t roll out other electric cars.
That situation is now changing, as a greatly improved and longer range version of the Nissan Leaf is now hitting the market, and a further improvement to range will arrive with the 2019 model year as well.
When taken together with the recent news that Nissan’s Infiniti brand will be transitioning to an entirely electrified model lineup by 2021, does this mean that Nissan is finally done stalling? Is it full steam ahead for electric vehicles (EVs) now?
Whatever Nissan’s plans are regarding all-electric vehicles (still unclear), it seems that series hybrids — such as the wildly popular (in Japan) Nissan Note e-Power — will play a large role in future model lineups.
So, don’t expect a shift to selling only all-electric vehicles at Nissan any time in the next decade (or two) … from the looks of it.
With regard to the Infiniti brand, it appears that the plan is for the brand to function as a sort of Tesla competitor. No doubt, company execs have noticed that Tesla has been mauling the competition in the luxury sector in recent years, and they have to be worried about future profitability.
Reuters provides a bit more background: “Nissan dropped the earlier electric Infiniti program in mid-2014 over concerns it would threaten the financial goals in its ‘Power 88’ mid-term plan, according to people involved in those discussions. The company ended up missing its 8% margin target anyway, in fiscal 2017.”
It reportedly dropped that electrified Infiniti program largely thanks to Tesla, it should be realized. Tesla swooped in and stole a big chunk of market share from other luxury brands, and it seems Nissan/Infiniti was concerned about the competitiveness of an electrified offering in that segment.
Continuing: “Nissan is one of a number of Japanese carmakers seeking to jump-start a higher-end brand. Toyota is launching a revamped Lexus LS flagship, while Honda has been redesigning its Acura line in the hope of boosting sales. In the United States, Infiniti’s sales rose 11.3 % last year in a light vehicle market that was down 1.5% overall, while Acura deliveries fell by 3.9% and Lexus by 7.6%.”
It’ll be very interesting to see how this situation continues unfolding. Nissan seems to be far less psychologically invested in the current auto industry paradigm than many of its competitors — maybe because of executive leadership concern about global warming and climate change — and far more flexible in some ways. Don’t be too surprised if the company ends up gaining market share at the expense of its rivals over the coming years thanks to that flexibility of outlook.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.