Nissan announced its latest electric car ambitions this week in what must qualify as one of the weakest press releases in recent memory. It’s a perfect example of namby-pamby corporate newspeak that strives to make the inconsequential seem relevant.
“Through Nissan Ambition 2030, its long-term vision announced in 2021, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. aims to expand the possibilities of mobility and society by providing experiences that inspire confidence and excitement, and enable closer connections between people and broader society. In line with business progress under the vision, Nissan announces new initiatives related to its electrification strategy.
“Through these efforts, Nissan will further promote the democratization of EVs and e-POWER models to meet the needs of individual markets, improve the competitiveness of development and manufacturing globally, and further accelerate the electrification strategy to achieve Nissan Ambition 2030.”
Nissan E-Power? Yawn.
Here’s the thing. What Nissan calls “e-Power” is just a version of the “self-charging car” myth that Toyota has been peddling for decades. It is an EV — sort of. It is a series hybrid that has a gasoline engine, a battery, and an electric motor. The electric motor powers the wheels while the engine runs a generator to keep the battery charged. But here’s the thing. It has no charging port! That’s right it’s an electric car that you can’t plug in!
Here’s how Nissan described this exciting new technology back in 2016: “The e-Power system allows you to enjoy all the benefits of an EV without having to worry about charging the battery. You’ll love it with your foot on the pedal.” Be still my beating heart!
Every mile you drive in an e-Power equipped car is made possible by exploding molecules of gasoline within an enclosed space, just the way the vast majority of cars have done for over a century. It’s Nissan’s way of saying to Toyota shoppers, “Nyah, nyah, nyah. We build hybrids too, but ours is a series hybrid and yours is a parallel hybrid. So there!” In either case, the technology is irrelevant to transitioning the transportation sector to zero emissions technology.
“As part of Nissan Ambition 2030, Nissan announced its plan to 23 electrified vehicles, including 15 EVs, by 2030.” That is not a misprint. The press release actually said that. Obviously the PR department was so bored by the time it read that far, it didn’t bother to proofread its own press release. We presume they meant to say the company would offer 23 electrified models by 2030 — 15 EVs and 8 e-Power models.
“In response to changes in customer needs and the business environment, Nissan has revised its plan to further accelerate electrification. Nissan will increase the number of models to meet the growing needs of customers for exciting and diverse electrified vehicles, introducing 27 new electrified models, including 19 new EVs, by fiscal year 2030.” [Which is it? 15 EV models or 19? No one in Yokohama seems to have any idea what the company’s plan is.] “As a result, the electrification mix across the Nissan and INFINITI brands by 2030 is projected to increase to more than 55% globally, up from the previous forecast of 50%.” [Wow. That’s a bold goal, huh?]
“In line with the progress of electrified vehicle penetration, Nissan’s latest forecast for its sales mix of electrified vehicles sold in major markets in fiscal year 2026 is expected:
- Europe: 98% (up from 75%*)
- Japan: 58% (up from 55%*)
- China: 35% (from 40%*)
- United States: 40%* (EV only; by fiscal year 2030)
“This will increase the global sales mix of electrified vehicles from the planned 40 percent when the vision was announced to more than 44 percent by fiscal year 2026. To address rapid market changes in China, in 2024 Nissan plans to launch an EV designed specifically for the market. In Europe, Nissan will continue its robust electrification plans and will also explore stronger collaboration with the Alliance.”
See that asterisk up there? Here’s what Nissan has to say about that down in the fine print: “*Figures from the Nissan Ambition 2030 announcement of November 2021; no change to U.S. figures.”
Unpacking Nissan EV Intentions
For the US market, Nissan only makes one car that qualifies for the full $7500 federal tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act. That’s the LEAF, which is made in Tennessee using batteries sourced in America from Envision AESC. Now the company says it will begin manufacturing electric car components at its factory in Dechard, Tennessee, and seek another US battery partner. By 2026, it expects its sales in America will be 40% of its total sales volume. Yes, you read that right. Nissan has its sights set firmly on 2026. With a consolidation of its existing EV platforms and an expansion of domestic component production, its vehicles will be able to qualify for at least a portion of the IRA tax incentives.
Notice however, the company says nothing about assembling electric cars like the Ariya in America. Instead, it seems it is pinning its hopes on the second generation LEAF, which is hopelessly outdated in terms of range, efficiency, and charging speed compared to virtually every other electric car sold in America. Nissan says it will offer six EVs in the US starting in 2026 and that several models could be built at its factory in Canton, Mississippi, according to Reuters. One of them is rumored to be a battery-electric replacement for the Maxima. Nissan announced last year it will invest $500 million to upgrade that factory.
Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta told the press this week that local raw material sourcing rules would be the automaker’s bigger challenge. “IRA is challenging, but on the other side, it’s an opportunity to accelerate the competitive electrification,” he told Automotive News. That challenge is nothing compared to Nissan’s dismal EV sales record recently. It sold 730,000 vehicles in North America last year. Only 12,025 were electric cars — 1.65% of the total.
Nissan, like its Japanese counterparts, is embracing the EV revolution the way porcupines make love — very, very carefully. The phrase “being dragged kicking and screaming” into the 21st century seems an apt description of how Japanese manufacturers view electric cars. They are open to any alternative. Hydrogen fuel cells, biofuels, more 30-year-old hybrids? Hell, yes. Bring it on! A full transition to battery-electric transportation? NOOOoooooo. Don’t make us! Moonbeams, pixie dust, anything but EVs.
Now consider this final paragraph from the Nissan press release. “Nissan intends to further enhance customer experience through personalized services for a long term engagement. Nissan will boost its Connected Car Service strategy from enriched on-board content to enabling on-demand functions to cater to diversifying customer needs. The company aims to achieve this through Software Defined Vehicles and is already demonstrated by e-architecture currently installed in Nissan Ariya and will be available in more models in the coming years.”
Forget the lumpy language. What is Nissan really saying there? One possible interpretation is, “Forget about our last century technology. There’s so much stuff going in inside the passenger compartment you won’t even notice how outdated the car is.” Good luck with that, Nissan.
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