Nissan reveals Ariya, its new electric crossover
All-new design to set future direction for Japanese car maker’s vehicles.
In a sign of the coronavirus-impacted times we’re living in, Nissan has used the internet to unveil what is possibly its most important new model in a decade, the all-new electric Ariya crossover
Car companies are renowned for their extravagant launch events but the reveal of the Ariya came via digital channels, broadcast globally from a socially distant event in Yokohama, Japan.
Speaking at the car’s world premiere, in front of giant wraparound video screens, Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida said the electric crossover was designed from the ground up to be part of Nissan’s electric and autonomous future, and would set the pace and direction for future Nissan vehicles.
“We created the Nissan Ariya as an answer to the aspirations and practical needs of today’s customers,” said Mr Uchida.
“Combining our strengths in EVs and crossovers, it’s a showcase for Nissan’s new era of excitement and design.”
The Ariya arrives a decade after the Japanese car maker caught its rivals napping with the launch of the Nissan Leaf, hailed as the world’s first mass-market EV.
The Leaf has since sold more than 500,000 units worldwide.
Despite its early success, Nissan was slow to capitalise on the Leaf and only released the second-generation model in 2017, allowing itself to be outflanked by rivals including Hyundai and Tesla.
This Ariya appears designed to wrest back Nissan’s leadership in the EV space with what looks to be a highly competitive drive train and many future-proof features such as advanced connectivity systems and limited autonomous driving capability.
“The Nissan Ariya opens a new chapter in our history as we begin our journey of transformation in our business, in our products, and in our culture,” Mr Uchida said.
“It defines what matters to Nissan, represents what we stand for, and embodies the essence of who we are: a passionate, innovative challenger.”
He said Nissan planned to roll out 12 new EVs in the next 18 months and expected sales of EVs and e-POWER electrified models to be more than 1e million units a year by the end of 2023.
By then, the company also aims to introduce autonomous driving technologies in more than 20 models in 20 markets, and to have sold more than 1.5 million vehicles equipped with these systems.
Stylistically, the Ariya looks a lot like the concept car of the same name showcased at last year's Tokyo motor show. The crossover features attractive and futuristic SUV-like styling and is built on an entirely new EV platform that’s designed to incorporate the latest in autonomous and connectivity features.
The design features a typically elevated crossover stance, with short front overhangs and a windscreen base that’s been pushed forward to enhance the car’s sleek aerodynamic profile.
In side profile, the design looks clean and powerful, with a single, clean horizontal line striking through the car’s mid-section, and a plunging rear roofline capped by twin shark-fin antennas.
The front-end features thin headlights and distinctive daytime running lights that frame what Nissan calls a “tech-shield grille,” with the now trademark closed-off look favoured by EVs. At the rear, a large air diffuser sits below a wide, horizontal light blade.
Inside, a sophisticated twin-screen digital display, with swipe pinch and zoom touch capability, stretches across the dash as a single piece of glass, highlighting the advanced interior design themes and cutting-edge technology.
The roomy cab looks sleek and dynamic with lots of interesting detailing, such as the thin pinstripe of copper linking the doors to the dash, and the “Andon” lighting in the footwell, which the designers refer to as “timeless Japanese futurism”.
Despite being classified as a C-segment, or small family vehicle, Nissan is claiming D-segment or large family car space for the Ariya, thanks to the packaging efficiencies of its electric drivetrain.
The Ariya’s E-Force all-wheel drive system features independent motors located at the front and rear of the car that deliver instant torque to all four wheels. Nissan claims the Ariya’s 0-100km/h acceleration time of 5.1 seconds is on a par with its 370Z sports car.
The company says the powertrain design is flexible enough to offer a family of vehicles, with Ariya set to be available with two different battery packages and in both two- and all-wheel drive.
The basic battery offered will be a 63kWh unit, while a more powerful and longer range 87kWh battery will also be available, with both batteries sold in either two- or all-wheel drive configurations.
There was no mention of the new model’s all-important range, but what was disclosed is that the battery can recover 375km of range in 30 minutes, using a high-power charger.
Given that such chargers can only charge to 80% to protect the car’s battery, we can speculate that the Ariya’s range might be as high as 470km.
To put that into perspective, the single motor Nissan Leaf’s 40kWh battery delivers an indicative driving range of 270km, while Audi’s recently released all-wheel drive e-tron models, with 71 and 95kWh battery, have a range of 300km and 400km respectively.
The car’s intelligent driver control system feature’s Amazon’s Alexa voice control technology, meaning you can control the car from home and vice versa with the appropriate home installation.
The system includes “Hey Nissan” voice control activation and among other tricks can lock and unlock the car remotely, control the vehicle temperature, and manage the entertainment system. It can also learn your preferences and set your journey automatically for you.
Nissan’s ProPilot 2.0, which was introduced in Japan on the Skyline last year, will also feature in the Ariya.
The system combines navigation with sensors to provide hands-free single lane cruising capability. The Ariya also includes the latest in connectivity features, including Over the Air (OTA) firmware updates for mapping and other features.
The Ariya is expected to go on sale in Japan in mid-2021 and the US later that year, with indicative pricing in Japan of about $70,000.
The car has not been confirmed for Australia but local Nissan executives have expressed keen interested in it, possibly as a Tesla Model Y fighter.
The Ariya also debuted a stylish new version of the Nissan logo, which will eventually be rolled out across the entire range.
The new logo appears to have been designed to render well with back-lit illumination, as it appears on the Ariya.