Comparison: Nissan Ariya vs. Tesla Model Y

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By Johnna Crider and Zach Shahan

Nissan just unveiled its new Ariya, and already some are saying it’s the “Model Y’s worst nightmare,” or that Nissan is going after Tesla. According to CNET, Nissan’s intentions with the new Ariya are to go after the Tesla Model Y. Sure, Nissan was the first to establish the global EV market in decent volumes with the Leaf, and paved the way for other legacy automakers to follow, and this is an exciting new EV, but the Ariya is not a threat to Tesla and it shouldn’t be viewed that way. The coming electric SUV is not the “true competition” of Tesla. Rather, it is a refreshing addition to the EV movement that can push more gasoline SUVs off the road.

Nonetheless, it’s inevitable that people do cross-shop vehicles in the same class, and some people will be interested in comparing these vehicles. So, let’s take a look at similarities and differences.

Nissan Ariya vs. Tesla Model Y

The Ariya will come in two battery pack sizes: 63 or 81 kilowatt-hours. The larger pack offers an estimated 300 miles on a charge. Nissan told CNET that this is on the U.S. EPA cycle, and it means around 75 more miles than the current Leaf. The Model Y Long Range AWD offers 316 miles of range, and a Model Y Long Range RWD option will come out later this year offering more range.

Nissan Ariya

The Ariya will also have an all-wheel drive option. It has a 50/50 weight distribution and a low center of gravity that is due to the arrangement of its battery pack, given the name the “Magic Carpet.” “Ariya was our opportunity to express purity because the magic carpet in a sense is a blank slate,” Nissan’s senior vice president of design, Alfonso Albaisa told CNET. The Model Y, very similarly, is built on a “skateboard” chassis. It’s essentially the same idea but different metaphors.

A sense of purity is a part of the Japanese culture that Albaisa wanted to weave into the Ariya. “How can we bring back this cutting-edge side of Japan, the hyper-clean modernism, the undeniable difference but at the same time natural? This is one of the key aspects I believe of Nissan’s history, that we can innovate with things that don’t shock.” Similarly, Tesla vehicles are well known for their minimalism and classical yet modern designs, which come across as “timeless” to many.

Tesla Model Y

With the e-4ORCE all-wheel drive system, the Ariya has up to 389 horsepower, and it can sprint from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 5.1 seconds. The Model Y Long Range goes from 0–60 mph in 4.8 seconds. If we can feel the difference once we test drive both, we’ll let you know, but we may just be imagining it. There’s also a Model Y Performance trim that makes the spring from 0–60 mph in just 3.5 seconds.

The Ariya has ProPilot Assist 2.0, which “offers hands-off single-lane driving and hands-on guided lane changes.” Resident Nissan expert Maarten Vinkhuyzen contends that it and Tesla’s Autopilot system are extremely close in capability and nothing else on the market matches them.

The Ariya has a couple of infotainment displays and Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa integration. The Model Y doesn’t have those, but have Tesla’s well known unique infotainment system.

It is said the Ariya will start at $40,000 for the 63 kWh battery version and $45,000 for the 87 kWh battery. Both of these place the Ariya below the base price of the Model Y, which is $45,690, but as noted above, a lower cost RWD Model Y is coming later this year, and the Ariya won’t be available until late 2021.

Nissan appears to have taken a page out of Tesla’s book when it comes to designing the interior by focusing on a minimalistic design while doing so in a way that isn’t an exact clone of Tesla’s. Car and Driver noted that its cabin is unlike a traditional automotive interior, while its theme seems to be a sole unique trait.

Overall, both electric SUVs offer a compelling package in all regards. They outperform gasoline competitors in this class to such a degree that they could and should take many sales away from their gasoline competitors. Consumers have slight differences in terms of style and branding preferences, and there’s plenty of room on the market for different electric crossovers with exciting specs and design. A Tesla fan is going to buy a Tesla, but the important thing is that a Nissan fan now has a great option coming in the electric crossover market.

A Growing Market Is Good For The Electric Revolution

2021 Nissan Electric SUV

We recently just compared the Model Y to the Ford Mustang Mach-E after seeing a photo of the two together in a parking lot. That will make even more people aware of the electric era we’re entering and invite them to go electric instead of buying another gas-powered crossover or SUV. The more electric competitors, the merrier!

Pricewise, if Nissan keeps its pricing goal, the Ariya will be a great thing for the EV industry and can entice more people who are open to buying an EV but think that they are still too expensive. Many people still think Tesla’s vehicles are wildly expensive. An electric Nissan SUV with these specs could bring them into the market.

I don’t think that the Ariya will be Tesla’s worst nightmare. I think it will be an ally.


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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider