- Nissan’s EV rebirth starts with the Ariya SUV, launched this year
- Over the next decade, Nissan will launch 23 electrified models globally, including 15 fully electric vehicles.
- Nissan expects 40% of its U.S. sales to be fully electric by 2030
When Nissan launched its groundbreaking Leaf electric vehicle (EV) back in late 2010, disgraced former company CEO Carlos Ghosn famously said that he thought EVs would comprise 10% of the market by 2020.
Not only did that never happen, but Tesla came along in mid-2012 with the Model S, bumped Nissan out of the top EV manufacturer spot and took a commanding lead. Nissan is now aiming to claw back market share with a bevy of new, relatively affordable models.
Its planned EV rebirth starts with the Ariya crossover that goes on sale in December at a starting price of $43,190. Then, later this decade, Nissan plans to introduce a proprietary low-cost, solid-state battery that it says will help make EVs affordable for everyone.
Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida is desperate to revive the Japanese carmaker after four years of turmoil triggered by the 2018 arrest of Carlos Ghosn in Japan, for alleged financial crimes, and his surprising escape to Lebanon.
Uchida’s mission is enormous: He’s attempting to repair the carmaker’s finances, revive Nissan’s brand and rebuild a demoralized corporate culture. His hopes hinge on “Nissan Ambition 2030,” a long-term strategy built around electrification and technological innovation.
Over the next decade, Nissan’s goal is to introduce no less than 23 electrified models globally, including 15 fully electric vehicles. Like many other carmakers, Nissan expects 40% of its U.S. sales to be fully electric by 2030. “Two years ago, I was not sure the U.S. would take to EVs,” Uchida said recently. “Now it’s more obvious. They are.” The carmaker is investing more than $14 billion in the effort over the next four years, including an expansion of battery production in Tennessee.
We are also hearing that Nissan is currently developing a new solid-state battery that would be a major breakthrough for the EV movement. Solid-state batteries can store twice as much energy as conventional EV batteries — potentially doubling a car’s driving range — and can charge in one-third the time. They’re also safer and cheaper, which is a crucial factor when trying to win over new customers.
Researchers have actually been working on solid-state batteries for years, but have struggled to commercialize the technology. Nissan aims to start pilot production in Japan in 2024 and to sell EVs equipped with its in-house battery in 2028.
Nissan has a lot of work to do. A 2021 Cox Automotive study found 83% of potential EV buyers were aware that Tesla sells EVs, but only 37% knew of Nissan’s model — even though the Leaf has been sold in the U.S. for more than a decade. Today the Leaf accounts for less than 2% of the EV market, down from 70% in 2012.
It’s not easy to rebuild a brand, especially if you’re taking on one as strong as Tesla — but dramatically higher-range EVs at a price people can afford could eventually give Nissan a boost, if its solid-state battery efforts bear fruit.
Nissan has a lot of catching up to do. Over the last seven to eight years, Tesla wrenched the reins off Nissan with EVs that offer triple the driving range of the original Leaf, in addition to quicker charging times, and high-tech, consumer-friendly features that improve over time via software updates. Nissan will be hoping to close the Grand Canyon-sized gap over the next four to five years with its new solid-state batteries.