If you read last week’s news that Nissan was working hard to bring a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell vehicle to market that could be powered by bioethanol, you might be forgiven for thinking that Nissan had started to lose interest in electric vehicle.
Given the sales slump that the Nissan LEAF is experiencing in the U.S. right now, we wouldn’t blame you either.
Yet while Nissan’s flagship electric hatchback isn’t selling as well as it once did, mostly likely due to the impending launches of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3, Nissan is in fact planning the next stage of its electric vehicle push: a wider range of all-electric models for customers to enjoy alongside a brand-new second-generation Nissan LEAF. Its goal? To make electric vehicles mainstream by producing more electrified models that appear to mainstream buyers.
And that, hinted Gareth Dunsmore, director of Nissan’s zero-emission business unit in a recent interview with British magazine Autocar, could mean electrifying Nissan’s highly popular Juke and Qashqai crossover SUVs.
“We’re leaders in crossovers and a leader with LEAF and we will combine those two in the future,” he told Autocar. “I hope EV stands up within that [platform] and people see it as environmentally friendly, fun and cost-efficient.”
Discussing future goals for Nissan’s electric vehicle lineup, Dunsmore said while the LEAF was build on a dedicated electric vehicle platform (Nissan’s current preferred method of building plug-in cars), the next step would be “a platform fit for EVs from day one,” making it possible to add an electric drivetrain and battery pack to virtually any Nissan vehicle.
If that modular construction method sounds familiar it’s because it is: at the moment, several automakers including Volkswagen, Ford and Volvo already produce vehicles on platforms designed with future electrification in mind. In a similar vein, Toyota has focused on designing vehicle platforms for years which are capable of taking a hybrid drivetrain and traction battery pack alongside more conventional internal combustion engines.
Such a method has its advantages too: with careful design, a vehicle platform designed for multiple drivetrain option doesn’t require a separate production line or heavy production line modifications. Additionally, production volumes can be raised or lowered in line with market demand, saving the manufacturer time and making it easier to respond to changes in buyer preferences.
As far as we’re aware, neither the current-generation Nissan Juke nor Nissan Qashqai crossovers are optimised for electric vehicle drivetrains, but it’s worth noting that at six years old, the current generation Nissan Juke is due a refresh very soon. And while the second-generation Nissan Qashqai (introduced in 2013 as a 2014 model year car) is hardly an old model by modern automotive standards, it’s conceivable Nissan has something in mind for its third-generation Qashqai that could enable electrification of the Juke’s larger sibling.
Regardless of if or when such a vehicle comes to market, we predict an electric version of the Nissan Juke would be based on second-generation Nissan LEAF technology, equating to a 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack good for at least 190 miles of range and either a single electric motor driving the front wheels or a dual motor setup for true all-wheel drive capabilities.
The slightly larger compact Qashqai meanwhile, would likely be built with a larger battery pack of between 60 and 70 kilowatts, partly to ensure a similar range to the Juke given its larger size (and thus lower energy efficiency).
We should reiterate however, that the two previous paragraphs are purely speculation based on what we know of Nissan’s current and promised electric vehicle plans, not definitive statements on what may or may not be coming to market. What we can tell you for sure, thanks to a press conference given last year by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, is that the idea of an electric Crossover SUV isn’t new at the Japanese automaker. In fact, it’s been on the cards for some time now.
That’s because Nissan, rather than following the high-end, luxury plug-in market as some other automakers have chosen to do, is focused on bringing electric vehicles to the mainstream market. And with both the Juke and Qashqai accounting for a large portion of Nissan’s market share, it only makes sense to see them electrified in the near future.
The question now is when and how much? That’s something we can’t answer, but we’d love to hear your predictions on price, specification and launch date in the Comments below.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.