With the Tesla Model 3 is completely humbling old luxury car leaders and even giving the most popular cars from Toyota and Honda a run for their money, the ongoing question is, “When will conventional automakers get more serious electric competitors onto the market?”
Nissan has long been an electric vehicle leader, but having only one consumer electric vehicle on the market has become a bit of a joke. Where’s Nissan’s second mass-market showing? Also, when will Nissan get an electric vehicle onto the road that has over 200 miles of range?
Well, a highly credible and well-informed source tells me that Nissan is now working on an electric SUV that is targeting the $45,000 price range. The range target is 220 miles. It’s been presented as a Nissan vehicle, but it’s not entirely clear if the vehicle would really end up being a Nissan model or an Infiniti model, or both. Vehicles it was being compared to include the Lexus RX (MSRP $43,570), the Audi Q5 ($41,500), the Volvo XC60 ($39,800), and the Tesla Model 3 ($49,000 right now, $35,000 someday soon-ish).
With a pretend price of $45,000 and 220 miles of range, and combining those specs with the models it was compared against, it seems like this model should be a premium-brand SUV rather than a Nissan. However, maybe Nissan is simply keen to build on its electric vehicle reputation with that brand. The LEAF sits at or near the top of Nissan’s car lineup (with its specific spot depending on the country). Perhaps that is the idea for an electric SUV as well — make it the best SUV you can get from Nissan.
“The prototype interior was interesting, going with a screen across the dash area with basic info in front of the driver and navigation on a smooth transition for the next screen,” my source told me. “It gave the look of a giant elongated screen from in front of the driver to around the middle of the passenger seat.
“The interior had no similarity to current Nissan design, and was very upscale, more like what would be found in an Infiniti. There were no hard plastics, and the design was very modern. Truly, it gave the Lexus a run for its money as far as fit and fabrics were concerned. The seat had an incredible new fabric that seemed in between Alcantara and leather.
“The exterior was amazingly slab sided, despite current trends, with a very large, transparent grill similar to what Mercedes is doing. It even had the Nissan logo in lights behind the transparent bubble grill.
“It had a panoramic roof and a large cargo area. I thought if the price was closer to $37,000, they would have a winner. But $45,000 is certainly pushing it — but maybe not for an Infiniti.
“The measurements were obviously EV purpose built, with a short hood and a lot more room after the front axle. The exterior width and length is similar to the Lexus RX, but the interior was more spacious given that the hood area was so small.”
One of the things I love about both the Tesla Model 3 and BMW i3 is their short hoods. A short hood makes driving more pleasurable and seemingly safer — as far as ease of not hitting things, but not necessarily crumple zone protection in the event of an actual accident, something you get in spades with a Tesla Model S or Model X, which is part of why they are the safest cars you can buy.
It’s interesting that Nissan seems to be following the lead of the Mercedes EQC with some of the exterior design elements. I’m curious to see how consumers respond to such designs compared to the clean, minimalist approach Tesla takes. I certainly appreciate the minimalism, but some people favor flashy earrings and necklaces.
What do you think — does the electric Nissan/Infiniti SUV sound compelling? How does $45,000 for 220 miles of range plus the package my source described sound to you?
Of course, we don’t have any timeline to include in the discussion, a downside if you are trying to consider how competitive a new EV will be. There’s a big difference between 220 miles in 2019 and 220 miles in 2022.
As Loren McDonald, other CleanTechnica writers, and I have written several times, people want moderately priced SUVs and crossovers. That class of vehicle is like lemonade on a hot summer day. I think that a $45,000 price tag for an electric SUV/CUV with adequate range should sell very — as long as there’s the battery supply and production capacity for it. Our own 2018 research — coming out soon in a 100 page report about EV drivers and potential EV drivers — reiterates what our reports from previous years found, which is that 200+ miles of range is plenty and people are aching for a semi-affordable electric SUV/CUV. Let’s see if Nissan can get something like this to market before the Tesla Model Y arrives!