Yokohama, Japan- Nissan unveiled an all-new electric SUV called the Ariya on Wednesday, and the Japanese carmaker says it's “a new chapter” for the company.
“I can tell you this is a no-compromise car,” said Nissan Chief Executive Makoto Uchida said, claiming that the Ariya symbolises a new dawn in its business, culture and products. “You have to drive it to feel it,” Uchida added.
The Ariya is set to go on sale in Japan by the middle of next year, and in Europe, North America and China by the end of 2021. There's no word at this stage, whether the vehicle, which slots above the Leaf, will make it to South Africa.
It will cost about 5 million yen (R765 000) and will compete with the Tesla Model Y, which starts at $43 690 (R725 000) in the US.
The Ariya's driving range on a single charge will be between 430km and 610km, depending on the type of battery and whether the model has a two-wheel or four-wheel drive.
The Ariya comes with semi-autonomous driving capabilities, allowing it to park itself and brake on imminent collisions, connect to the net and offer concierge-like services.
Koji Endo, an auto analyst at SBI Securities, said the big test still lies ahead, because buyers are looking for various features, such as driving performance, resale value and how easy the vehicle will be to recharge.
“But it’s clear this is Nissan’s chance to patch up its totally devastated brand image,” Endo said in a telephone interview.
He believes Tesla fans tend to be so loyal, so the Ariya won’t lure them away, but it might appeal to new buyers.
“Expectations can’t be higher for Nissan. If it can’t pull this one through, it’s in pretty serious trouble,” Endo said.
Nissan’s profits have tumbled, sinking into a 671.2 billion yen loss for the fiscal year that ended in March, its first red ink in 11 years.
Going electric is becoming increasingly attractive as people become increasingly worried about global warming, the environment and sustainability. Electric cars can get subsidies from various governments, including China and the US, the two biggest markets, as well as European nations like Norway.