Next-gen Nissan Leaf to be a crossover


Nissan’s new electric crossover, to be built at its Sunderland factory in the UK, has been confirmed as the replacement for the Leaf by the firm’s Europe boss, Guillaume Cartier. Plans to build a new crossover in this factory are part of Nissan’s £1-billion investment announcement in July to secure the plant’s future.

  • Nissan Leaf to now take shape as a crossover
  • Nissan to no longer develop conventional models in Europe
  • Electrification makes future of Nissan sports cars uncertain in Europe

The Leaf replacement, to be launched around 2025, will, therefore, switch from being a hatchback to a crossover and be based on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s CMF-EV platform. Nissan plans to have five electrified crossovers by then – the Juke, Qashqai, Ariya, X-Trail and the Leaf replacement.

The Japanese carmaker will not develop conventional models – like saloons, hatchbacks and estates – in Europe anymore. However, it will turn to alliance partners, Mitsubishi and Renault, to source underpinnings for other segments – chiefly, a small car to replace the Micra.

Focus on EVs

“We will look to the alliance for a full lineup and powertrains,” said Cartier. “One topic that is still open is the entry level segment [the Micra replacement]. Key point is how we offer something from the alliance with the Nissan brand.” He added that the car would be an EV, but making it profitable was the main issue. The focus on electrification means that Nissan will not invest in internal combustion engines to make it EU7 emissions compliant, with regulations due in Europe in the middle of the decade.

“Strategically, we bet on electrification,” said Cartier. “If we invest in EU7, the ballpark cost is about half the profit margin per car, or around €2,000, which would pass on to the customer. So we bet on EV, knowing it will decrease in cost.”

Nissan expects 80 percent of its sales to be EVs by 2030 and will have electrified its entire range with full EVs or e-power hybrid options by 2025.

Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida confirmed that the company will not be investing in hydrogen technology, and will instead focus on battery-electric vehicles. “Our competitors have many solutions for technology,” he said. “For us, we decided EVs. We used to have hydrogen technology at Nissan, and maybe in a different world, we still would. But so far, this [EVs] is our asset and what we want to be on."

Uchida also confirmed that the future of Nissan’s sportscars in Europe is still uncertain due to electrification. However, he said the company remains a supporter of Formula E and will continue in the championship because it is a great way of promoting their wider electric ambitions.

Responding to suggestions that Nissan has been slow to capitalise on its impact in the world of EVs – having launched the Leaf a decade ago – Uchida said that he will be revealing plans for Nissan’s next era of electric cars and electrification later in the autumn.

On the shortage of computer chips impacting production of cars, Uchida said that "step by step, it’s getting better,” but that the crisis is far from over and it will rumble on for some time. The crisis has shown Nissan that it must "adapt to new ways of working with suppliers [and] make partnerships stronger.”

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