Nissan's New Fully-electric Ariya Crossover May Help the Automaker Get Back on Track
Faced with the arrest of its former CEO Carlos Ghosn in 2018 and declining vehicle sales, Japanese automaker Nissan is looking to regain its footing in the U.S. and its latest electric vehicle might help to turn things around as the company looks towards its future.
Nissan unveiled its first fully-electric SUV called the Ariya today, which will compete with the Tesla Model Y crossover and other new electric SUVs hitting the market, including the Audi e-tron, Ford Mach-E and Hyundai Kona EV.
Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida and Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta unveiled the Ariya to a global audience during a live-streamed event at the new Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama, Japan.
The Ariya is Nissan's first fully-electric SUV and its joining the Nissan Leaf in the company's lineup. Nissan's Leaf was one of the first mainstream electric cars for sale in the U.S., paving the way for automakers like Tesla to convince drivers to give up their gas-powered vehicles and switch to more environmentally friendly electric vehicles.
The Nissan Ariya will have a preliminary estimated range of up to 300 miles depending on the configuration. The new SUV will offer both 2-wheel drive and a new "e-4ORCE" all-wheel drive version, as well as two different battery sizes. Nissan's e-4ORCE all-wheel control system with dual electric motors provides a balanced, assured handling with sports car-level power, Nissan says.
The Ariya is available with either a total 65 kWh 90 kWh battery pack, which accepts Level 2 charging Up to 7.2 kW and DC fast charging up to 130 kW. The standard electric powertrain produces 221 lb-ft and 443 lb-ft of torque with the all-wheel-drive, dual motor setup.
Nissan says the Ariya will offer powerful acceleration and a smooth, quiet ride.
Nissan's designers took advantage of the car's new battery-powered platform to open wup the interior space, The Ariya's flat floor allows for a more spacious cabin for passengers.
Other touches include thin profile Zero Gravity seats which Nissan says provides a comfortable environment for the driver and passengers. The overall look of the interior is minimalistic, much like Tesla's vehicles.
The electric Ariya crossover offers plenty of space for cargo.
The Ariya's debut marks a key milestone in the Nissan NEXT transformation initiative, a four-year plan building on Nissan's reputation for innovation, craftsmanship, customer-focus and quality, alongside an ongoing cultural transformation now that Nissan is under new leadership.
The advanced electric crossover might also help Nissan to gain back some of its market share after a tumultuous few years in which the company's former CEO was arrested for misusing company funds to fund a lavish lifestyle. The scandal damaged Nissan's reputation, which resulted in declining sales made worse by the global coronavirus pandemic that led to a decline in auto sales around the world.
Earlier this year, Nissan requested a $4.6 billion commitment line from major lenders to cushion the impact of the pandemic.
Nissn reported a 30% drop in sales for the first quarter of 2020. Sales of Nissan's once popular sedans including the Sentra and Maxima fell by over 50% since last year. Sales of the Nissan Frontier pickup also fell by nearly 50% since 2019.
To be fair, some of these declines can be attributed to consumers switching to SUVs and crossovers instead of traditional sedans. The new electric Ariya, however, gives Nissan a new electric entrant in the wildly popular crossover and SUV segment for the first time.
Nisann was an early leader in the electric car segment with its mass-market Nissan Leaf, which was introduced in 2010, two years before the Tesla Model S was released. To date. Nissan has sold nearly 500,000 Leaf's EVs, making its one of the world's best selling electric cars.
Nissan is hoping to appeal to customers once again with its first fully-electric crossover, The company expects sales of its EVs and e-POWER electrified models to be more than 1 million units a year by the end of fiscal 2023, said Gupta.
"Nissan was a pioneer in the world of mass-market electric vehicles a decade ago with LEAF, setting the standard for affordable, mass-market electric vehicles. We expect nothing less for the new Nissan Ariya," said Gupta. "While the driving exhilaration of its acceleration and torque levels is undeniable, the Ariya offers balanced, customer-centric technology that is perfect for everyday use."
The Ariya, a key model in Nissan's ambitious plan to roll out 10 new models over the next 20 months that will include advanced electrified, automated and connected technologies, Gupta said.
The fully-electric crossover will also come with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and connected technology. Like many of Nissan's other models, the Ariya will come with Nissan's ProPILOT Assist 2.0 advanced driver assistance system that uses driver attention monitoring to enable hands-off single-lane highway operation.
Standard across the Ariya lineup will be Nissan's "Safety Shield 360", a suite of advanced active safety and driver-assist technologies. This includes Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and more.
The Ariya will also feature Nissan's Intelligent Around View Monitor which offers a view from above the vehicle by stitching multiple camera feeds together. The feature helps a driver to better see their surroundings.
A human-machine interface lets customers use natural speech to adjust car settings, such as the climate controls. Over-the-air firmware updates keep the Ariya always up to date.
The Ariya comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto built in, so driver's sync their smartphones with the vehicle. Also included is Amazon's Alexa digital assistant.
The Ariya features a clean and uncluttered interior (right hand drive model shown).
Nissan also aims to introduce new advanced driver assistance technologies in more than 20 models in 20 global markets. The company aims to sell more than 1.5 million vehicles equipped with these new connectivity and advanced safety features.
The all-new Nissan Ariya is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in mid-2021, followed by the U.S. and Canada later in the year. U.S. pricing will start around $40,000 making it a strong contender to the Tesla Model Y and Model 3, which might help Nissan to rebound in the U.S. market.
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