Rumor: Nissan (Versa) Note EV (or Hybrid EV) To Launch in Japan, Offering Third Plug-in Alongside LEAF, e-NV200

When we toured the Renault-Nissan technical center in Silicon Valley last week, both Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and other executives present were keen to underline the alliance’s belief that the future for both companies lay in autonomous electrified vehicles. Indeed, while we were touring the facility, Renault-Nissan staff told us multiple times that the alliance planned to launch ten new vehicles with some form of autonomous drive technology in the next four years.

Given the alliance’s twin targets of developing vehicles with zero emissions and zero fatalities, it’s only logical to assume that those ten vehicles will also include some form of electrification too, although that fact hasn’t yet been confirmed by Nissan officially.

Could Nissan be about to make the Versa Note a plug-in? Yes, say Japanese sources.

Could Nissan be about to make the Versa Note a plug-in? Yes, say Japanese sources.

Indeed, Renault-Nissan remains tight-lipped on the specifics of which vehicles will feature autonomous drive technology, as well as any plans for future all-electric vehicles. But according to Japanese news site Newswitch, one of Nissan’s upcoming electrified vehicles will be either an all-electric version or a range-extended hybrid electric version of the Nissan Note, which is sold in the U.S. as the Nissan Versa Note.

Details aren’t particularly clear at the current time — and our lack of Japanese language skills doesn’t help. But according to a Google translated version of the story, Newswitch claims that Nissan will begin to produce an all-electric version of the compact MPV this coming fall alongside existing gasoline versions at Nissan’s Oppama facility in Japan.

The rumors are unconfirmed at this time.

The rumors are unconfirmed at this time.

While the gasoline Note is currently produced at Nissan’s Kyushu Plant, Newswitch says that Nissan is preparing to relocate production to Oppama this year as part of a relocation and restructuring plan for Nissan’s Japanese production facilities, opening up the Kyushu plant for production of North American-market SUVs like the Nissan Juke.

Sadly it’s difficult for us to tell from our lack of Japanese language skills if the vehicle will be a full electric model or a range-extended. Newswitch seems to suggest that the vehicle will be offered as both an electric vehicle and a range-extended EV, but Japanese-language ethicallifehack suggests that the car will be offered as an electric car with a range-extending engine as a way to “compensate for the shortness of cruising distance” of an all-electric model.

Where both stories agree however is the news that Nissan will use Panasonic lithium-ion cells inside the battery pack for this particular Note model rather than the in-house batteries produced by a joint partnership between NEC and Nissan.

This would not only ensure battery supply stays strong for Nissan’s all-electric LEAF and e-NV200 models but also ensure Nissan’s supply chain doesn’t have a single point of failure.

Is the Nissan Note range-extended EV (or pure EV) the rumored plug-in hybrid Nissan is planning to bring to market this year? We’re not sure. Alongside the lack of confirmation — Nissan has declined to officially comment on the rumor, simply stating that “we cannot comment on future product plans” — we’d be surprised if the Nissan Note became Nissan’s next global plug-in. 

The Versa Note is popular, but we're not sure it would be the best plug-in.

The Versa Note is popular, but we’re not sure it would be the best plug-in.

That’s because while the Note is indeed popular in markets like Europe and Asia, Nissan’s Altima — a far larger seller than the Versa Note in the U.S. — would appeal to a wider range of buyers.

But whatever Nissan’s next plug-in will be, without a confirmation of the rumors and only two sources to quote, we’re going to have to keep this story firmly in the rumor pile for now.

[Hat-tip: Brian Henderson]

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