Nissan unveils EV crossover concept at Tokyo Motor Show
Ariya points the way to the next electric Nissan model
Nissan took the wraps off the Ariya concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, previewing a production model that could use the Nissan Leaf platform. A follow-up to the Nissan IMx concept shown in Tokyo two years ago, the Ariya crossover is 181.1 inches long, which makes it close in size to a Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, hinting that the next major electric Nissan model could be a midsize crossover. That’s not all that surprising given the fact that several automakers are also seeking to field EVs in the midsize crossover body style, including Ford, which revealed a profile sketch of a Mustang-style crossover EV just last week.
Featuring sleek lines and a rakish profile, the Ariya concept also previews future Nissan design elements while retaining familiar items such as the V-shaped front fascia and thin LED headlights. And if you’re seeing a bit of the Mercedes-Benz EQC in that front fascia, you’re not alone.
“We replaced the conventional grille with what we call a ‘shield’—an expressive piece with innovative 3-D texture within that goes beyond cosmetics, but also as a way to highlight the technology lurking within the vehicle,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global design. “In this case, it’s a radar sensor and other technologies that help the Ariya concept read the road and visualize things the driver can’t see.”
Underneath, the Ariya is powered by two electric motors, one for each axle, but the automaker has not hinted what kind of range it might have, or whether it has the Leaf’s long-range battery underneath—or an even larger one. The long-range Leaf currently features a 62-kWh battery, which gives it an EPA-rated range of 226 miles in the U.S., but it’s likely that the production version of this concept, which could land as soon as mid-2021, will have an even larger battery to compete with EV crossovers from other automakers.
“With a flat floor—made possible by the battery pack layout and absence of an internal combustion engine—the Ariya concept welcomes occupants as they step in the cabin with a feeling of expansion and openness,” Albaisa said. “Panels blend naturally into each other and flow seamlessly from the front, sides and rear, giving a panoramic impression from any seat position.”
If the Ariya concept is followed up by a production model in 2021, as rumored, it’ll have no shortage of competitors, all approximately in this size and body style. Of course, we’d expect that Nissan’s offering, if greenlit for production, will aim at a lower entry price than Mercedes, Audi and Tesla, which by that time is expected to offer the Model 3-based Tesla Model Y, also in this approximate size and body style.
A crossover follow-up to the Leaf would make a lot of sense for Nissan, one of the EV pioneers that at one point commanded a pretty large share of EV sales in the U.S. Nissan has faced some headwinds in recent years as it worked to launch a second-generation Leaf, and is now dealing with some financial challenges at home in Japan and in other world markets.