After a rocky 12-18 months, Nissan is trying to find a way forward post-Ghosn. The good news is its strength in China and to a lesser extent, the USA and Japan. In Europe, South America, India, Africa and the Pacific Rim, things remain more challenging.
If the R-N-M Alliance can be fortified, the future for the Nissan brand may begin to look much brighter. And when it comes to next generation vehicles, there are many potential sources of success.
What Nissan and its mini-car partner Mitsubishi refer to as electric Kei-cars will be manufactured at MMC’s Mizushima plant in Japan. The announcement was made in July 2020 but there were no details about the vehicles themselves. In March, there were reports stating that the cars would reach the market in 2022.
Nissan’s existing Kei models are the Roox and Dayz, each made by Mitsubishi Motors and part of the NMKV joint venture, plus the Suzuki-supplied NV100 Clipper Rio. See the PLDB link at the bottom of this feature for details of all three.
For its third generation, the Note comes exclusively in what Nissan calls e-Power form. Announced for the Japanese market in November 2020, the car went on sale there a month later.
Not offering petrol-only versions was a brave move as the second generation Note had been the brand’s best seller at home. So far, it’s paying off, with 39,803 deliveries (+72%) of this small hatchback so far this year. That’s more than enough to keep it the brand’s best seller in Japan.
As with the previous model, this is a series hybrid REEV (range extender electric vehicle). The wheels are driven by a motor, not the engine, with energy stored in the batteries topped up by the ICE.
There are both single motor FWD variants and AWD cars which have one motor on each axle. Nissan’s code for the petrol engine is HR12DE and EM47 for the motor. It is presumed that this is the same 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo which also powers the Kicks e-Power.
Two ‘Note Aura‘ versions were announced for the Japanese market a few days ago. Both the front- and the all-wheel drive Aura are powered by the same engine and motor as other Notes. They have slightly altered styling and more upmarket features as well as what Nissan terms “Noise dampening in the roof, doors, and front door glass”.
Facelifts for the Note/Note Aura are expected in late 2024 with a fourth generation in 2027. It’s too early to say whether or not that car will be an EV but that it could well be.
The Sylphy, one size up from the Note, is arguably the brand’s most important model. Enormously successful in China, it was the country’s top selling vehicle of 2020, pushing the second placed and rival Lavida off its perch. Deliveries numbered an impressive 545,634 units versus 448,504 for the VW.
The latest generation of this C segment/Compact model understandably went on sale first in the PRC. The Sentra model name continues to be used in the Americas for the eighth generation car, as well as in Russia. The model is not sold in Japan or Europe.
China’s Dongfeng Nissan joint venture was the first to reveal the new model, the car having been exhibited at the Shanghai motor show in April 2019.
North America’s Sentra was revealed at the LA auto show in November 2019, two months before it became available. The 2020 Sentra was launched with a standard 2.0-litre gasoline engine in the US market.
Later in its life cycle, this might be one of the vehicles which Nissan Motor and Shenzhen-based Sunwoda Electric Vehicle Battery Company said they would jointly develop and produce, in a June 2020 statement. These would potentially be for Nissan’s future e-Power series hybrid vehicles.
The next Sylphy is due to hit the Chinese market in 2025, three years after today’s car is facelifted.
The replacement for Japan’s Fairlady Z and the rest of the world’s 370Z continues to be delayed as Nissan has had many other priorities and for years struggled to make a business case for a new model.
A 28 May 2020 Youtube clip suggested that a concept was coming. This vehicle, the Z Proto, was revealed online on 15 September 2020. Said to be powered by a biturbo V6, the prototype had many styling cues from previous generation models.
Intriguingly, the Z Proto was, upon close inspection by Japanese YouTubers, found to have similar suspension system front and rear plus an identical wheelbase dimension to the 370Z. Whether this means that Nissan will use that old car as the basis of a new one isn’t known.
As the best markets should be the USA and Japan, the Z35 series Z will be revealed in New York City on 17 August. Production isn’t expected to commence until 2022 though.
Will there ever be a new GT-R? The current one is more than 13 years old and its potential replacement is said to have been delayed until late 2023. R36 (codename) will surely be a hybrid.
SUVs & Crossovers
Nissan had been due to launch a locally-made small Datsun SUV in the Indian market in late 2020. Until an announcement in July 2020, only the development code, EM2, and the fact that the brand was switched to Nissan was known. ‘Magnite‘ had been the rumoured name and this turned out to be true. The positioning and size is below the Kicks, so sub-4 m in length, with EM2 using the Alliance’s CMF-A platform. Competitors include Maruti Suzuki’s Brezza, Kia Sonet and Hyundai Venue.
Nissan India revealed images of a concept as part of the July 2020 name confirmation but the production model didn’t appear for another three months. The Magnite became available in Indian dealerships in December 2020 followed by exports to markets such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and South Africa. Production, originally due to commence in August 2020, was delayed by COVID-19.
The Magnite and Renault’s Kiger are part of the same project. Each is manufactured at the Alliance’s Oragadam plant in Tamil Nadu. There should be a facelift in 2024 and a potentially electric or at least electrified successor in 2027.
The latest Pathfinder, a big SUV which is mainly for the US market, was revealed in February, alongside Nissan North America’s Frontier, each of them new for the 2022 model year. Series production started on 13 May at the Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant in Tennessee. Sales commenced earlier this month.
Slightly smaller than the outgoing Pathfinder, the latest one nonetheless can seat up to eight occupants. It has an identical wheelbase dimension and the same architecture as the previous model.
The only engine is a 284 hp and 259 lb ft 3.5-litre V6 (also carried over), while a nine-speed automatic transmission replaced the former model’s CVT. The V6 is built at Decherd Powertrain, which is also in Tennessee. Production should last for eight years with a facelift for the 2026 model year.
The Ariya, an electric crossover, was revealed in July 2020 but it isn’t due on sale in Japan until later in Q3, to be followed by the US, Canada, China and Europe by year-end. Nissan Motor says the maximum range will be 610 km for front-wheel drive variants but Nissan North America says 300 miles. The Ariya concept which had its public premiere at the Tokyo motor show in October 2019, was a preview of the 4,595 mm long production model. The motor show premiere for the production model took place in Beijing in September 2020.
The car’s two-motor, electric all-wheel-drive system, called E-4ORCE, was showcased for the first time in January 2020 at CES.
There will be a choice of 65 kWh or 90 kWh (nominal) battery packs (useble capacities: 63 kWh or 87 kWh) and multiple power outputs, depending on the market:
- 65 kWh battery: 160 kW (217 PS) and 300 Nm
- 90 kWh battery: 178 kW (242 PS) and 300 Nm
- 65 kWh battery: 205 kW (278 PS) and 560 Nm
- 90 kWh battery: 225 kW (306 PS) and 600 Nm
- 90 kWh battery: 250 kW (340 PS) and 560 Nm
- 90 kWh ‘Performance’ battery: 290 kW (394 PS) and 600 Nm
Top speeds are 160 km/h (FWD) or 200 km/h (AWD).
Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist 2.0 driver assistance system will be either standard or optional. This uses driver attention monitoring to enable hands-off single-lane highway operation. Ariya will also offer e-Pedal, which allows the driver to start, accelerate and decelerate using only the accelerator pedal.
Nissan Safety Shield 360, which bundles six active safety and driver-assist technologies, features too. This includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and High Beam Assist.
Ariya will also offer Nissan’s Intelligent Around View Monitor and Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, while a human-machine interface lets occupants use natural speech to adjust car settings, there will be over-the-air firmware updates. Amazon Alexa will also be available.
Nissan engineers led the project to develop a multi-model architecture for electric vehicles. Renault and Mitsubishi will also have vehicles which use it. It was first seen in the form of the IMx concept at the 2017 Tokyo motor show. The CMF-EV platform has a flat floor and is compatible with all manner of vehicle bodies and sizes.
Tochigi, north of Tokyo, is the main plant but build will also take place in China. Expect production to endure for seven to eight years, which means a facelift in 2025.
Nissan’s pick-up strategy for the US and Canada echoes that of Toyota’s: most of the rest of the world has a slightly shorter pick-up/ute/bakkie (Hilux/NP300 or Navara/Fontier) but the equivalent for North America is its own design and on a different platform and life cycle (Tacoma/Frontier).
The two North American markets will finally see a successor for their 17 year old Frontier in August.
The new-for-2022 truck was revealed to the media in February alongside the 2022MY Pathfinder with which it shares so much. This pick-up not only looks unlike the Nissan NP300/Frontier/Navara sold in other parts of the world but it has a different platform: Alpha-F, which is also the basis of NNA’s even bigger pick-up, the Titan.
The Frontier comes in King Cab, Crew Cab short wheelbase and Crew Cab long wheelbase bodies, while there is also a choice of 4×2 and 4×4 variants. The sole engine is a 3.8-litre gasoline V6 linked to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Outputs are 310 horsepower and 281 lb ft torque.
The Mexican market remains out of sync with Canada and the USA when it comes to pick-ups in this segment: the older model which is also sold in Asia and Europe is what Nissan México offers.
The replacement for the rest of the world’s Navara/Frontier will use an evolution of the Mitsubishi L200/Triton platform. Given that the current model was last facelifted in October 2020, the next generation will likely have been delayed until late 2023.
Some believe that Nissan will not sell the new generation model in European countries.
Reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of Just Auto.
Future platform intelligence
More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of GlobalData’s Automotive Intelligence Center. That includes multiple Nissans not mentioned in this report for reasons of space. Examples include the Murano, Titan, Kicks, Serena, Grand Livina, Qashqai, Rogue/X-Trail, Juke, Leaf, Altima/Teana, March/Micra, Lannia and Maxima.
This was the last feature in a series of seven examining the future models of Group Renault- and Nissan Motor-owned brands. The first looked at what’s coming for Renault and Samsung. This was followed by Alpine, Mitsubishi, Infiniti and Venucia.
Mazda will be the next OEM to have its forthcoming vehicle plans explored.