Nissan EV Strategy Stresses Design, Battery Tech

Christian Wardlaw | Dec 01, 2021

Nissan was a pioneer in building an affordable electric vehicle (EV) for the masses. Say what you may about its styling, but the original Leaf was revolutionary when it went on sale more than a decade ago.

Nissan Ambition 2030 Surf-Out Max-Out Hang-Out EV Concept Vehicles

Now, after seemingly ceding leadership on the EV front to automakers like Ford, General Motors, and Tesla, Nissan has announced ambitious plans to electrify its lineup, deliver new battery technology, and reduce its carbon footprint. Better yet, beyond the all-new 2023 Ariya, which appears to be an electrified replacement for the fading Murano midsize SUV, Nissan’s EV strategy calls for an emphasis on design as reflected in a quartet of new concept vehicles.

Nissan’s Future EVs Might be Far Out, Man - Find the best Nissan deals!

From your perspective, the most exciting thing about the recently announced Nissan Ambition 2030 plan might be the new concept vehicles Nissan created to illustrate its electrification plans. Nissan president and CEO, Makota Uchida, promises future Nissan EVs will have “revolutionary” designs, and the automaker’s quartet of concepts certainly illustrates that.

Nissan bases the Chill-Out on the same platform as the Ariya with intentions to convey “timeless Japanese futurism” while the vehicle serves as a “mobile haven.” Resembling an SUV coupe, the Chill-Out offers an available 87-kilowatt-hour battery, next-generation e-4orce electric all-wheel drive, and an estimated 300 miles of range. Moreover, it foreshadows a new production EV arriving in the next few years.

Nissan showed three additional concepts, all theoretically based on a new, lightweight skateboard EV architecture built around the company’s planned solid-state battery (SSB) technology. The Max-Out is a 2-seat convertible built for performance, the Surf-Out is a pickup truck with off-roading capability, and the Hang-Out is a rugged-looking crossover with a roomy, lounge-style interior.

All four of these “far-out” concept vehicles demonstrate the flair for design for which Nissan was once known. If production versions arrive looking anything like them, that will be a win for Nissan.

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With all automakers moving aggressively toward electrification and vehicles built on skateboard platforms that engineers can stretch like taffy to create a variety of vehicles, design is what can help any EV maker stand out from the crowd, including Nissan. However, if the automaker can successfully get its new solid-state batteries into mass production by 2028, as its EV strategy calls for, it may also boast an engineering advantage.

Simply put, SSB technology promises more driving range, shorter recharging times, and lighter, thinner, and safer battery packs. Essentially, they replace the potentially volatile liquid electrolyte in a typical lithium-ion (li-ion) battery with a more stable solid electrolyte. Nissan is not the only automaker working on perfecting SSBs; several other companies plan to use them at the end of this decade.

Currently, SSBs are far more expensive to manufacture than li-ion batteries. Still, Nissan’s Ambition 2030 plan calls for economies of scale with partner Renault as well as expected reductions in the overall costs associated with manufacturing electrified drivetrain components to keep SSB-powered EVs within reach of consumers.

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Nissan understands that you can’t simply build EVs and sell them to consumers without considering what happens next. From helping its customers access EV charging to reusing and recycling batteries at the end of their lifecycles, Nissan Ambition 2030 calls for investment in the entire EV ecosystem while advancing carbon neutrality goals. The company is even exploring how it can combine electrification with driving automation to better serve an aging society with advanced mobility solutions.

Boil the Nissan Ambition 2030 strategy down to its essence, and the automaker’s plans are similar to those of its competitors, if not quite as boldly aggressive. You’ve heard this story before: More EVs built on a scalable platform, fewer carbon emissions from factories, investments in infrastructure and vehicle recycling facilities, and planned autonomous driving technology.

What’s different about Nissan’s approach is the company’s all-in commitment to mass-produce SSBs and its apparent emphasis on design and serving niche lifestyles to sell its future vehicles.

Naturally, the Nissan EV that people most likely need is the practical but stylish new 2023 Ariya. But the EVs they might want on an emotional level include the Chill-Out, Hang-Out, Max-Out, and Surf-Out.

Nissan is the source of information for this article. It was accurate on December 1, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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